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Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 23:04

By Gerald Jonas via The New York Times

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminine sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.

Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”

In addition to more than 20 novels, she was the author of a dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children and five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. She also wrote a guide for writers.


“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female.

Ms. Le Guin’s fictions range from young-adult adventures to wry philosophical fables. They combine compelling stories, rigorous narrative logic and a lean but lyrical style to draw readers into what she called the “inner lands” of the imagination. Such writing, she believed, could be a moral force.

“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,” she told The Guardian in an interview in 2005. “Little kids can’t do it; babies are morally monsters — completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy.”

The writer’s “pleasant duty,” she said, is to ply the reader’s imagination with “the best and purest nourishment that it can absorb.”

She was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 21, 1929, the youngest of four children and the only daughter of two anthropologists, Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodora Quinn Kroeber. Her father was an expert on the Native Americans of California, and her mother wrote an acclaimed book, “Ishi in Two Worlds” (1960), about the life and death of California’s “last wild Indian.”

At a young age, Ms. Le Guin immersed herself in books about mythology, among them James Frazier’s “The Golden Bough,” classic fantasies like Lord Dunsany’s “A Dreamer’s Tales,” and the science-fiction magazines of the day. But in early adolescence she lost interest in science fiction, because, she recalled, the stories “seemed to be all about hardware and soldiers: White men go forth and conquer the universe.”

She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951, earned a master’s degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance from Columbia University in 1952, and won a Fulbright fellowship to study in Paris. There she met and married another Fulbright scholar, Charles Le Guin, who survives her.

On their return to the United States, she abandoned her graduate studies to raise a family; the Le Guins eventually settled in Portland, where Mr. Le Guin taught history at Portland State University.

Besides her husband and son, Ms. Le Guin is survived by two daughters, Caroline and Elisabeth Le Guin; two brothers, Theodore and Clifton Kroeber; and four grandchildren.

By the early 1960s Ms. Le Guin had written five unpublished novels, mostly set in an imaginary Central European country called Orsinia. Eager to find a more welcoming market, she decided to try her hand at genre fiction.

Her first science-fiction novel, “Rocannon’s World,” came out in 1966. Two years later she published “A Wizard of Earthsea,” the first in a series about a made-up world where the practice of magic is as precise as any science, and as morally ambiguous.

The first three Earthsea books — the other two were “The Tombs of Atuan” (1971) and “The Farthest Shore” (1972) — were written, at the request of her publisher, for young adults. But their grand scale and elevated style betray no trace of writing down to an audience.

The magic of Earthsea is language-driven: Wizards gain power over people and things by knowing their “true names.” Ms. Le Guin took this discipline seriously in naming her own characters. “I must find the right name or I cannot get on with the story,” she said. “I cannot write the story if the name is wrong.”


Ms. Le Guin speaking in 2014 at the University of Oregon. She sought to draw readers into what she called the “inner lands” of the imagination. Credit: Jack Liu

The Earthsea series was clearly influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. But instead of a holy war between Good and Evil, Ms. Le Guin’s stories are organized around a search for “balance” among competing forces — a concept she adapted from her lifelong study of Taoist texts.

She returned to Earthsea later in her career, extending and deepening the trilogy with books like “Tehanu” (1990) and “The Other Wind” (2001), written for a general audience.

“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female but assume the attributes of either sex during brief periods of reproductive fervor. Speaking with an anthropological dispassion, Ms. Le Guin later referred to her novel as a “thought experiment” designed to explore the nature of human societies.

“I eliminated gender to find out what was left,” she told The Guardian.

But there is nothing dispassionate about the relationship at the core of the book, between an androgynous native of Gethen and a human male from Earth. The book won the two major prizes in science fiction, the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is widely taught in secondary schools and colleges.

Much of Ms. Le Guin’s science fiction has a common background: a loosely knit confederation of worlds known as the Ekumen. This was founded by an ancient people who seeded humans on habitable planets throughout the galaxy — including Gethen, Earth and the twin worlds of her most ambitious novel, “The Dispossessed,” subtitled “An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974).

As the subtitle implies, “The Dispossessed” contrasts two forms of social organization: a messy but vibrant capitalist society, which oppresses its underclass, and a classless “utopia” (partly based on the ideas of the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin), which turns out to be oppressive in its own conformist way. Ms. Le Guin leaves it up to the reader to find a comfortable balance between the two.

“The Lathe of Heaven” (1971) offers a very different take on utopian ambitions. A man whose dreams can alter reality falls under the sway of a psychiatrist, who usurps this power to conjure his own vision of a perfect world, with unfortunate results.

“The Lathe of Heaven” was among the few books by Ms. Le Guin that have been adapted for film or television. There were two made-for-television versions, one on PBS in 1980 and the other on the A&E cable channel in 2002.

Among the other adaptations of her work were the 2006 Japanese animated feature “Tales From Earthsea” and a 2004 mini-series on the Sci Fi channel, “Legend of Earthsea.”

With the exception of the 1980 “Lathe of Heaven,” she had little good to say about any of them.

Ms. Le Guin always considered herself a feminist, even when genre conventions led her to center her books on male heroes. Her later works, like the additions to the Earthsea series and such Ekumen tales as “Four Ways to Forgiveness” (1995) and “The Telling” (2000), are mostly told from a female point of view.

In some of her later books, she gave in to a tendency toward didacticism, as if she were losing patience with humanity for not learning the hard lessons — about the need for balance and compassion — that her best work so astutely embodies.

At the 2014 National Book Awards, Ms. Le Guin was given the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She accepted the medal on behalf of her fellow writers of fantasy and science fiction, who, she said, had been “excluded from literature for so long” while literary honors went to the “so-called realists.”

She also urged publishers and writers not to put too much emphasis on profits.

“I have had a long career and a good one,” she said, adding, “Here at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.”

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

Tags: obituaryursula k. le guinMSMcategory: Other
Categories: News

The Institute for Advanced Trouble-making Anarchist Summer School

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 22:49

From The Institute for Advanced Trouble-making

The Scoop-

This July will be the second annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking (IAT), a weeklong anarchist theory and action summer school for adults of all ages. The school will take place from July 21 to 29, 2018, in Worcester, MA.

For this summer, our intention is to cultivate a stronger understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among people who have been active in anarchistic spaces and movements – but are looking to deepen their organizing strategies, learn theory, and skills. Our hope is that the anarchist summer school provides generative ground for imagining another world and sticking with such visions for the long haul.

The IAT emphasizes a prefigurative politics that explores forms of freedom as a counter to and, hopefully, increasingly replacement for forms of domination and hierarchy. We aspire to bring that sensibility to the summer school, doing our best to cultivate transformative social relations as we co-learn and create a temporary, do-it-ourselves community.

Our long-term goal for the IAT is to create a lasting anarchist education hub in the Northeast that can train new and old organizers alike beyond the basics in anarchist theory and practice, critical thinking, and collective self-organization and liberatory infrastructure. We have seen the need for our struggles and organizing to develop deeper forms of mutual aid and solidarity for the days ahead building innovative new strategies that can present a revolutionary challenge to the state, capitalism, and other forms of systemic violence.

For this summer, our intention is to cultivate a stronger understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among people who have been active in anarchistic spaces and movements – but are looking to deepen their organizing strategies, learn theory, and skills. Our hope is that the anarchist summer school provides generative ground for imagining another world and sticking with such visions for the long haul.

Apply to Attend!

We have limited space! Not everyone who fills out this application will be accepted as a participant.

So please fill out this application with care!

Applications will be decided in two batches: for applications received March 1 we'll get back to you by March 15

For applications received by May 1 we'll let you know by May 15

We prioritize people of often-marginalized identities, including but not limited to people of color, young or older adults, working-class folks, queer, trans, or gender-nonconforming people, those with dis/abilities, parents, and women, but recognize that many of these may not be visibly apparent.

The anarchist summer school runs from dinner on Saturday, July 21 through lunch on Sunday, July 29, and are looking for participants who can commit to the whole time. The days will be full but fun and thought-provoking so we also want participants who are eager to dive into learning with their head, heart, and hands in a supportive, yet intensive environment

Unfortunately our space is not compliant with ADA standards, and only parts of our facilities are wheelchair accessible, but as a collective we care about making our space usable for folks with mobility needs. We're interested in discussing ways we can accommodate physical needs in the meantime as well as planning for greater accessibility in the future.

Courses

Course listing

We are still creating our course load! Stay tuned!

Here are some confirmed facilitators:

Maia Ramnath

Maia is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist based in New York City. She has taught modern South Asian and world history, written two books (and is working on a third) and numerous articles on transnational radical anticolonial movements. A “self-identified” anarchist since the 1990s, she has since been active in organizing (under countless acronyms and affiliation hats) around a range of intersecting issues of economic, racial, and environmental justice, Palestine solidarity, and indigenous solidarity, all understood as interlinked aspects of the same imperial/colonial system.
Check out Maia’s book Decolonizing Anarchism : An Antiauthoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle

Hillary Lazar

Hillary has been involved with anarchist and radical education projects since the 1990s, and is currently part of the efforts to organize graduate student workers, a mentor and trainer for Organize Pittsburgh, a collective member of the Big Idea Bookstore, and a content editor for Agency: An Anarchist PR Project. She is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches about social movements, gender, power, and resistance.

Zola

Zola is a street artist and community organizer. She became involved in activism through the Quebec student movement ten years ago, and has evolved between the Francophone and Anglophone realms of anti-capitalist and anti-oppressive politics of Montreal since then. In the past years, she has focused her time mainly on popular education around settler colonialism and indigenous solidarity through direct action and art.

Cindy Milstein

Cindy is the author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations, coauthor of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism, and editor of two anthologies, Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism, and the forthcoming Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief. Long engaged in anarchistic organizing, contemporary social movements, and collective spaces, Cindy has recently been part of solidarity projects countering displacement, gentrification, prisons, and police. Cindy
was also death doula for three (biological and chosen) parents over the past four years.

Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo

Kevin is a graphic designer, educator, and community organizer based in Montreal (Tiotià:ke). He runs the design studio LOKI, working at the intersection of graphic design and social change. The studio’s practice focuses on collaboration and community building, cultural production, activist research, and political mobilization. He is a member of the Howl! Arts Collective, organizing artistic events and actions in support of social justice struggles, and Artivistic, an all-POC art collective working on friendship (in the largest possible sense of the word).

Michael Loadenthal

Michael has been an anarchist organizer for the past two decades and regularly writes and speaks about state repression and political violence. He works as a precariously-employed professor of sociology and social justice studies at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, and the Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. He posts all of his work for free at http://gmu.academia.edu/MichaelLoadenthal

Pavlos Stavropoulos

Pavlos is a community activist and educator who has been part of indigenous, anarchist, environmental, solidarity, and local struggles, both in the United States and his native Greece. He is the founder of Woodbine Ecology Center, which focuses on the confluence of sustainability, social and environmental justice, indigenous knowledge, and decolonization struggles.

The I.A.T. anarchist summer school will be held July 21st-July 29, 2018 in Worcester, MA.

We are a small collective of long time anarchist organizers seeking to create a lasting movement education hub in the Northeast of the so-called US. The I.A.T. seeks to train new and old organizers alike beyond the basics in anarchist theory, anti-oppression, direct action tactics and strategic movement building.

The I.A.T. aims to raise collective capacity to target our enemies at the systemic level with effective direct action and campaign work. As Trump’s presidency spurs a swell of anarchist organizing and renewed interest in anti-state anti capitalist perspectives, we want to escalate by building skills in direct action, creating movement infrastructure, and community organizing for new anarchists.

We also want to bring experienced organizers together to innovate strategies and tactics for our contemporary context. Rather than an activism 101, our intention is to cultivate deeper understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among people who are already doing some of that work.

In part we are inspired by long lasting radical education projects such as the IWW associated Work People’s College (1907-1941), Movement for New Society’s ‘Life Centers’ (1971-1988), the Highlander Folk School (1932-present), and the Institute for Social Ecology (1974-present). These examples are notable largely for drawing organizers together in order to innovate tactics and strategies for their context- tools that were intentionally injected broadly into radical movement work. These longer form education projects are also notable for their alumni largely remaining life long radicals.

While informal education spaces, campaign based action camps, and book fairs are important elements of our struggle they have serious limitations as well. By creating longer form 1-4 session courses the I.A.T hopes to give space and time to go in depth on contemporary anarchist analysis, theory, and concrete movement building skills. The I.A.T. is a move towards creating a more rigorous exploration of anarchism that is:

  1. Outside of the purity of radical internet culture
  2. Contemporary to our context
  3. Rooted in social anarchist principles
  4. Directly linked to movement struggle
  5. Rooted in Care systems and long haul strategy

Help us provide financial aid to attendees and support course facilitators !

Donate Here!

Donors:

Decapital: Funding for Radical Projects

Decapital’s funding comes from a small collective of individuals who contribute a portion of their income each month. We’re organizers, artists, and diy’ers. It’s an affinity group that pools resources to provide grants for creative trouble makers.

https://decapital.org/

Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund

Mark Baumer was a renaissance man—award-winning poet, prolific content creator, and he even had an earlier career as a talented baseball player—but first and foremost, he was a committed activist.

He was attempting a cross-country walk (his second trek across the country) focused on raising awareness of climate change, while also raising funds for FANG, an activist collective he was a member of. He was hit and killed by an SUV on Day 101 of his walk in Crestview, Florida, along Highway 90. Mark was 33.

Mark was deeply concerned about the future of Earth. Additionally, he worked to create a more just society. His protests involved the opposition to the power plant in Burrillville and he participated in the March to Burrillville with FANG, as well as protesting the manufacture of cluster bombs by Textron, Inc., a protest where he was arrested. He even managed to get himself banned from RISD’s property for daring to shout out to the governor, asking about her decision on the power plant.

Mark will be missed forever by his parents and the people that knew him and knew of his love and concern for the world and the people in it.

The Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund was created as a way of keeping Mark’s memory and spirit alive. It will be focused on supporting causes and organizations that cultivate traits that were part of Mark’s philosophy of life—love, kindness, and working towards building a better world—a world of equals, of mutual aid and an economic based on equity, not the further enrichment of the elite.

The Farmers and Mechanics League Trust

The mission of the Farmers and Mechanics League Trust is to fund radical anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist collective or cooperative projects in Worcester, MA and Providence, RI. We fund counter-institutions that directly combat capitalism, government, institutionalized racism and wanton environmental destruction; and from these ashes build radical, egalitarian, sustainable alternatives.

IAT Summer Camp 2017 IAT flier Course listing: Decolonizing Anarchism (3 sessions)

(Maia Ramnath)

This workshop will be organized in three parts. The first one, anarchism in anticolonial action, will explore colonialism/anticolonialism/decolonization, taking a historical overview of what these words mean and the various ways they manifest. We’ll discuss how anarchists (in both colonizing and colonized positions) have related to such struggles, including those identified as national liberation struggles. Part two will focus on decolonizing the idea of anarchism, looking at various specifically located traditions of resistance and liberation philosophy/praxis that have affinity or share some key concepts with anarchism. It will analyze how anarchistic thought and praxis might look in different political, social, and cultural contexts. Finally, part three will center on anarchism and decolonization today, concentrating on some contemporary hot spots of empire and settler colonialism (drawing on my experiences organizing around Palestine and Standing Rock), and touching on ethical, practical, strategic, and tactical considerations for action.

Maia is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist based in New York City. She has taught modern South Asian and world history, written two books (and is working on a third) and numerous articles on transnational radical anticolonial movements. A “self-identified” anarchist since the 1990s, she has since been active in organizing (under countless acronyms and affiliation hats) around a range of intersecting issues of economic, racial, and environmental justice, Palestine solidarity, and indigenous solidarity, all understood as interlinked aspects of the same imperial/colonial system.

Check out Maia’s book Decolonizing Anarchism : An Anti-authoritarian History of India’s Liberation Struggle

Burn Down the American Plantation: Revolutionary Abolitionism (3 sessions)

(Khaled and Layla)

The Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement is a political movement dedicated to freeing people from bondage and building anarchist resistance. We situate our political movement in the context of the abolitionist struggle against slavery, and are continuing the tradition from Nat Turner to the black freedom struggle. We believe the US Civil War was never resolved, the slave system was not abolished and actually transformed, and our struggle today must begin from this point. Lastly, as anarchists, we believe that the state and capitalism are illegitimate, and we are calling for their abolition, while using the Rojava Revolution as a model for self-governance and revolutionary self-defense. This three-part workshop will explore these themes and strategy.

Khaled and Layla are collective members of The Base, an anarchist political center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, committed to the dissemination of revolutionary left and anarchist ideas and organizing.

Art and Social Movements (3 Sessions)

(Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo and Zola)

This course will facilitate discussions on the role of art in social struggles and the multiplicity of ways in which artistic practices support radical movement building. We will share examples of diverse approaches drawn from our own experience as artist-activists (in anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles, Palestinian solidarity work, student activism, and anti-capitalist cultural production), highlighting both successes and failures within specific campaigns and contexts. And there will be time for some hands-on art making within or outside this course. We hope to challenge the separation between “art” and “activism,” revealing and deconstructing the ideological frameworks that structure all artistic practice. Furthermore, we will examine the affective bonds that are a central component of collective art making and the experiencing of art, to show how they are essential to the building of solidarity within and between social movements.

Kevin is a graphic designer, educator, and community organizer based in Montreal (Tiotià:ke). He runs the design studio LOKI, working at the intersection of graphic design and social change. The studio’s practice focuses on collaboration and community building, cultural production, activist research, and political mobilization. He is a member of the Howl! Arts Collective, organizing artistic events and actions in support of social justice struggles, and Artivistic, an all-POC art collective working on friendship (in the largest possible sense of the word).

Zola is a street artist and community organizer. She became involved in activism through the Quebec student movement ten years ago, and has evolved between the Francophone and Anglophone realms of anti-capitalist and anti-oppressive politics of Montreal since then. In the past years, she has focused her time mainly on popular education around settler colonialism and indigenous solidarity through direct action and art.

“The Anarchist Turn”: Understanding Anarchism in the Twenty-First Century (2 sessions) (Hillary Lazar)

Since the Zapatista uprising in 1994, anarchism has become the primary organizing logic for many of the major recent mobilizations—from the Global Justice Movement, to Occupy, M15, and Greek antiausterity efforts, and now antifa resistance. Anarchists are also playing a vital role in helping to infuse a more radical perspective and praxis into the ongoing, interrelated struggles for racial, gender, queer, Crip, indigenous, immigrant, and climate justice.

This workshop will provide a brief historical overview of anarchism and what contributed to this shift along with taking a closer look at how it has informed organizing in recent decades. We’ll also draw on experiences from our own respective political work to consider what anarchists can do to better strengthen and support current resistance and solidarity efforts, counterpower projects, and transformative movements for collective liberation.

Hillary has been involved with anarchist and radical education projects since the 1990s, and is currently part of the efforts to organize graduate student workers, a mentor and trainer for Organize Pittsburgh, a collective member of the Big Idea Bookstore, and a content editor for Agency: An Anarchist PR Project. She is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, where she teaches about social movements, gender, power, and resistance.

Learning Our ABCs: Exploring Accountability, Boundaries, and Consent in our Lives and Communities (2 sessions) (Worcester FemSex)

In this participatory workshop, we will collectively construct a clear definition of consent and affirmative consent practices using our own experiences as a guide. We hope to provide participants with tools and opportunities to practice running scenarios in order to better bring affirmative consent and clear boundaries into their lives and relationships. We also plan to open up space for participants to explore what happens when things go awry in our relationships and communities when consent isn’t well-practiced. We will be using frameworks and tools from the FemSex curriculum to guide this work including, but not limited to: role-playing, dialogue, storytelling (explicit and anonymous), and pod-mapping tools.

Criminalizing Dissent & (Un)Civil Disobedience: Repression, Terrorization & Rioti-zation (3 sessions)

(Michael)

The last 20 years have seen a dramatic unmasking of the state’s use of heavy-handed tactics for the criminalization and demobilization of radical social movements. While many are aware of the Green Scare of the early 2000s, many are less aware of how such means have continued throughout the modern era. In this course will we look at the past, present, and future of state repression, and discuss how to interpret this strategy. This will involve close examinations of the means used to target Animal and Earth liberationists, as well as more recent events such as mass felony indictments. We will examine how the rhetoric of (domestic) terrorism has been mobilized, the use of Federal Grand Juries, sexual infiltration by police and informants, federal laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and incarceration in Communications Management Units. This course will seek to carefully balance two outcomes: making organizers keenly aware of how repression has been used to quiet dissent, while at the same time not immobilizing folks’ abilities to act towards emancipatory goals.

Michael has been an anarchist organizer for the past two decades and regularly writes and speaks about state repression and political violence. He works as a precariously-employed professor of sociology and social justice studies at Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, and the Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. He posts all of his work for free at http://gmu.academia.edu/MichaelLoadenthal

Everyday Anarchism: Aspirations, Solidarity, and Direct Action (3 sessions) (Cindy Milstein)

This three-part workshop will explore anarchism as an ethical compass and visionary politics, both in terms of its ideals and how those aspirations are put into practice, or rather, into messy and beautiful experiments that necessitate bonds of solidarity and prefigurative direct action.

Cindy is the author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations, coauthor of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism, and editor of two anthologies, Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism, and the forthcoming Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief. Long engaged in anarchistic organizing, contemporary social movements, and collective spaces, Cindy has recently been part of solidarity projects countering displacement, gentrification, prisons, and police. Cindy

was also death doula for three (biological and chosen) parents over the past four years.

Anarchist Orientation in Grassroots Organizing (2 sessions)

(Todd May)

This course will focus on techniques of grassroots organizing from an anarchist perspective. In the first part, we will explore basic grassroots organizing techniques. In the second part, we will ask about how to frame such techniques in an anarchist orientation as opposed to more traditional hierarchical organizational work.

Todd is a professor of philosophy at Clemson, and author of Nonviolent Resistance: A Philosophical Introduction, The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralism Anarchism, and thirteen other books of philosophy, including work on Foucault and Deleuze. Long involved in many resistance movements from anti-apartheid to LGBTQ rights, Todd has recently been doing trainings in grassroots organizing around the upstate of South Carolina as well as organizing against the Clemson administration’s silence regarding the Muslim ban and racism on campus and in support of lower-paid staff at the university.

Radical Fabrication, Printmaking, and Makin’ Things (The League of JustUs)

DIY production of art and design is an important entry point to the anarchist community. This session will discuss the different methods of producing large volumes of physical objects and media for maximum impact. We will discuss and demonstrate various digital and conventional fabrication tools and their application for activist art- including lazer cut stencils, sticker, and mobile printmaking. We will also discuss the accessibility of this equipment and the role of maker spaces and cooperative workshops in supporting movements. We hope to demonstrate several projects that have been implemented from our space along with exciting ideas we hope to try out soon. Time for smaller meetings with the instructors will be possible if participants are interested in learning more or fabricating a design.

Spencer is a carpenter and activist from Worcester who has been involved in cooperative workershops and maker spaces for many years. He is a member of the The League of JustUs mobile printmaking team.

Julia is a carpenter, artist, and dabbling herbalist. Julia has been making stuff and doing things as long as she can remember. After leaving college and joining friends in various justice oriented groups she’s become proficient in speaking up, acting out, and not over committing herself to things she feels passionately about. She enjoys reading, being in nature, games, and talking about body stuff.

Activist Climbing (V H S S K)

The basics in climbing for direct actions. More advanced climbers will be focusing on skill sets beyond the basics- so please let us know what you are interested in learning on our application.

Anarchism, Permaculture, and Radical Ecology (3 sessions) (Pavlos Stavropoulos)

Drawing from social anarchism, social ecology, and traditional indigenous knowledge, and using the lens of decolonization, we will explore permaculture as a practical tool that emphasizes social and ecological integration through design methods based on observance and replication of nature, diversity, egalitarianism, and decentralized, autonomous control of communities along with their environment and resources. What can permaculture teach us about strategy and place in designing and creating egalitarian, free, and ecological neighborhoods and communities? How can anarchism help bring out the implicit radical and liberatory potential of permaculture? How can a deep and liberatory understanding of ecology strengthen anarchist theory and practice? How can a radical ecology resist the de-radicalizing phenomenon of cultural appropriation? Drawing on theory and historical as well as contemporary examples, we will critically examine our practices while calling for a new radical ecology that informs our movements and our work for another world.

Pavlos is a community activist and educator who has been part of indigenous, anarchist, environmental, solidarity, and local struggles, both in the United States and his native Greece. He is the founder of Woodbine Ecology Center, which focuses on the confluence of sustainability, social and environmental justice, indigenous knowledge, and decolonization struggles.

Welding for Actions (2 sessions) (SWARM)

Participants will learn the basics in welding, welding for blockades and action equipment, and welding in the field.

Intro to Nonviolent Direct Action (1 session) (SWARM)

The basics in planning and executing non-violent direct actions.

Introduction to Anarchism (3 Sessions)

anarchism_infoshop_-_become_ungovernable

Since Trump was elected in November, many in the US have turned away from traditional political parties and the promises of independent third parties. At the same time, a national surge in anarchist ‘antifa’ and ‘black bloc’ activity has resulted – with many asking, “just what the hell do these people want and why are they dressed like weird ninjas half the time?”

What is anarchism? What do anarchists stand for? What are they against? What does an anarchist society look like? Aren’t humans just kinda crappy and unreliable?

To help answer these questions, the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking is putting on a series of three workshops as an introduction to anarchism!


Introduction to Anarchist Theory-July 6th (SWARM)

Just what in tarnation are these anarchists even about?

We’ll tackle the principles of anarchism, key thinkers & ideas, anarchist schools of thought, economics, and finally… What anarchists envision as an alternative to capitalism and the state!
Presentation Link:

http://prezi.com/uitvt6skr-md/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Introduction to the Anarchist Movement- July 12th (Alex I)

Alex (Ex-Slingshot Collective member http://slingshot.tao.ca/) will lead a workshop discussing anarchist history, with a special focus on the modern era (80-90s – 00s).

Anarchist Organizing and Tactics- July 19th (SWARM)

Just what in tarnation do these anarchist propose we do now?

We’ll talk about how anarchists propose to destroy capitalism, systemic oppression, the state, and how they organize in communities (and what the heck is up with all the black clothes!?).

Broad strategies such as syndicalism, dual power, insurrection, and gradualism will be discussed as well as direct action and organizing tactics such as labor organizing, strikes, affinity groups, black blocs, civil disobedience and more.

Course Materials:

Anarchism and its Aspirations:

Free PDF version:

http://libgen.io/ads.php?md5=B1BDCFBA828417946098FBA9E493D093

Paperback version:

https://www.akpress.org/anarchism-and-its-aspirations.html

To Change Everything

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Rj4mMMSYI

A History of Anarchism in 8 Minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YitdjMORoU

Anarchism: Philosophy and History

http://revolutionaryleftradio.libsyn.com/website/anarchism-philosophy-and-history-with-dr-mark-bray

Gathering Proposal by Vic – From Disconnection Issue #1:

https://archive.org/details/Disconnection1GatheringProposalByVic

The Political Prehistory of Love and Rage:

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/ThePoliticalPre-historyOfLoveRage/political_pre_hist_lnr-SCREEN.pdf

 

Tags: Institute for Advanced Trouble-makingsummer campeducationcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Gentrification, Part 3: The Anarchist

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 21:49

From Connect Savannah - by Jason Combs

THIS ONE is going to be a ride. Buckle up.

In the first installment in this Gentrification Series, I made a joke about wishing to speak with certain Leftist parties, if they would be willing to do so.

Not only was one such individual perfectly willing to do so, but I have greatly enjoyed the several sit-downs that we have had.

I will call this person the Savannah Anarchist, or SA for short.

SA identifies more specifically as a Queer Anarchist. This is not just an Anarchist that identifies as queer. And queer, by the way, is separate from gay and lesbian.

“People who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT may describe themselves as queer.” Thanks, Wikipedia.

Therefore, a Queer Anarchist is a person seeking to abolish all societal “norms” when it comes to sexual identities.

(The SA clarifies: “I would say that being queer is not just seeking to abolish sexual norms, but any societal norms tied to sexuality and gender through intersectionality [understanding that all our oppression including race, class, gender, and sexuality are connected].”)

I spoke to someone else who studies the psychology of human sexuality who put it this way: “stuff like Biqtch Puddin from Savannah winning season 2 of Dragula.”

I’ve learned some things writing this column, and now perhaps so have you.

“But what does this have to do with Gentrification?!” you ask.

Well, SA also identifies as a regular ole vanilla Anarchist, as well as a Queer Anarchist (though not all QAs will—it’s complicated). And Anarchists are very, very opposed to gentrification.

Not having ever given much serious thought to Anarchism—to me it’s so intuitively and self-evidently unworkable—I asked for some reading material.

The most promising document I was provided with was titled “Short-Circuit: Towards an Anarchist Approach to Gentrification.”

You can find it and read it yourself online, if you don’t mind probably being added to some sort of watch list. My future defense is that I’m a writer doing research —you’re on your own.

It starts off well, with a survey of the field of knowledge, as many academic pieces will. It discusses the beginning of the use of the term “gentrification” by the Marxist sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964.

The article then goes on to describe a four-stage model of gentrification devised by the urban theorist Philip Clay. The stages (Pioneering, Expanding, Adolescent, and Mature) are based on risk, its reduction, and the resulting addition of investment capital from increasingly risk-averse sources.

Basically, as risk is reduced, investment increasingly comes from sources less and less connected to the original building of and/or betterment of the neighborhood. Displacement becomes more and more of a problem, unless there are interventions.

I largely agree with this model, and will be looking into it more.

After a bit more academic survey, we get to the portion of the paper that is the original work of the anonymous Anarchist writers, described as “Two Members from Toronto” on the website LibCom.org.

They argue that Anarchists need to be able to have a flexible way of responding to the pressures of gentrification. Potential “interventions” lie on a spectrum characterized on one end by community organization and advocacy (legal), and on the other end by “direct actions” which include “property destruction, sabotage, and propaganda” (largely illegal).

Sounds like the old Sinn Fein/IRA set-up to me.

Guess what? Though it started off well and informed me of some other interesting work done on gentrification, this document gave me no new respect for Anarchism.

Instead, it re-asserted my previously vague belief that it’s a contradictory mess of an ethos with concrete examples:

1. Gee, there seems to be a lot of organization required for most of these so-called Anarchist approaches. This may be pedantic, but if you are pushing for more community say in what happens in a community, you do not support anarchy, but subsidiarity. Words and their meanings are important. However, anarchy sounds cooler than subsidiarity, I’ll grant you.

2. Anarchists seem to support the will of the people only as long as the people are anti-Capitalist. Resident associations that ask for and facilitate investment in their neighborhood are “repressive” and “manifestations of the ruling class banding together to collectively assert their class power.”

3. The state is bad, and should be dismantled, but it should please keep providing social services. The authors point out that one of the primary problems created by displacements associated with gentrification is that former residents no longer have access social services—services administered by the state, with funds appropriated through taxation and the implied threat of state violence. It’s a conundrum.

This last point gets to where my personal dialogues with the SA usually reached a dead-end. We agreed more should be done for the marginalized and disadvantaged hurt by gentrification. We disagreed on the means to reach those ends.

I am generally a supporter of Capitalism, though I don’t believe all market segments are naturally efficient, so I’m not against government intrusions. I’m not a laissez-faire kinda guy.

Adam Smith himself thought that the government should step in for three main things: the physical protection of society, the administering of a legal system, and “erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works which may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society,” but which “are of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals.” (from Robert L. Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, in turn quoting Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations—the former is highly recommended to all, the latter in its original form only if you are a masochist).

This third area is where most of left vs. right political debate in America occurs—what are the public institutions and works of a great society?

I believe that caring for the marginalized and disadvantaged is something that a great society does, so the state should do that. How and to what degree is a much larger discussion.

So, no, I do not think it is a real estate developer’s job to provide bathrooms, showers, and lockers for the homeless population within a development project built in a gentrifying neighborhood.

This is too great a burden, and makes no business sense, especially if you understand that whole risk-reduction model. To me, any such project is the job of the state.

However, Anarchists do not support state action (duh, anarchy). The Savannah Anarchist wants those that contribute to gentrification to directly assume responsibility for addressing its downsides, voluntarily, and without using any such action as an opportunity to make pro-gentrification activities look good.

I simply think this is unrealistic.

More than that, it becomes problematic when Anarchists attempt to induce their unrealistic goals through the “direct action” of destruction of property and vandalism. This isn’t hypothetical.

Another article that I was provided with by the SA appeared in a Minneapolis-area zine called Nightfall, and proudly described how the front window of a business selling artisanal candles was shattered.

Though a small, local business, this action was considered anti-gentrification because it would increase risk for neighborhood investors and help to stop the slippery slope towards future safety for a Starbucks location.

Closer to home, a mail-order funky sock subscription service called Sock Fancy, headquartered in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Atlanta, was recently the two-time victim of similar window-smashing.

The anonymous anti-gentrification activists left a note on an online forum stating, “We do not care if this business is ‘local’ or not, since it caters to an audience of milquetoast hipsters that are nowhere in the world.”

This is no way to treat plucky young entrepreneurs just trying to bring a little joy to the world through funky socks. If the vandals are correct, and their audience does not exist, then the business will be ruined through the natural mechanisms of the market. Sit back and enjoy your hipster schadenfreude patiently.

I asked the Savannah Anarchist if they supported such direct actions. They did not condemn it. While this position troubles me, I do believe the Savannah Anarchist has their heart in the right place.

This comes back to their dual identity as Anarchist and Queer Anarchist, and more generally as a part of the queer community at large. The latter affiliations would naturally impart an empathy towards all those that are marginalized or disadvantaged, for whatever reason, including those being displaced by gentrification.

The Savannah Anarchist’s participation in public meetings has consistently been to speak for these people. It can sometimes be rude. It is almost always inconvenient, as mitigating the downsides of gentrification is not an easy problem to solve.

However, I think the SA’s voice is necessary, even if I believe their suggested remedies unrealistic. People like the Savannah Anarchist keep the rest of us on our toes and uncomfortable in our complacency.

I hope the Savannah Anarchist will keep throwing rocks, as long as they remain rhetorical.

Tags: atlantagentrificationInterviewcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Rojava: Urgent Message from an Anarchist Comrade in Afrin

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 21:46

From Insurrection News Worldwide

The Erdoganist army and its barbarian allies (namely the Turkish backed Free Syrian Army /TFSA & the so-called Syrian National Army /SNA) invaded 4 outer villages and 4 defensive points in the Afrin region. They are moving really very slow. They have air power and more superior weapons than us but our defense line fuck Erdoganists and their Syrian terrorists’ moral. Erdogan’s fighter jets are bombing blank points. His special operations units are fearful of moving into the Afrin city center. Our last stand defense line can survive at least 4 months. Yes unfortunately, without international support, Erdoganists can invade Afrin. But it will be a great chaos for them. Erdoganist army will be sad!

Comrades, we need your help more than everything. Its a life or death situation. This invasion isnt only about Afrin nor Rojava/Assyria/N. Syria but Erdogan wants to invade also the whole border territory, including Iraq’s Ezidistan (Zoroaster Kurdish lands /Sinjar), Ninewah (Iraqi Assyria), Turkmeneli (Iraqi Shia Turkomans) and Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountains area (PKK’s HQ and dissidents and opressed people’s refugee villages and camps). Its clearly IMPERIALISM and he wants to destroy everything and massacre every people he just hate.

Another important thing is Turkish and Bakur (Turkish Kurdistan) Kurdish comrades situation. Before the invasion, Erdogan first invaded Turkish Kurdistan and Eastern Turkey to eliminate PKK and her Turkish Marxists allies. Not only guerrillas but also autonomous municipalities were invaded. Erdogan and his fake opposition (Kemalists and Nationalists) are all fascists, they even arrested members of parliament from HDP (pro-Kurdish and Turkish Marxist alliance, 3rd biggest party in parliament). Our comrades in Turkey and Turkish Kurdistan are in HELL.

In Western Turkey (İstanbul, Ankara, Smyrna regions) anarchists are suffering. We even lost contact with lots of groups. For example there has not been any statement from DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Movement) nor Kara-Kızıl (Black-Red). Comrades from Kara Bayrak Otonomu (Autonomous Black Flag) are missing (possibly arrested without legal process). All HDP coalition and anarchists of Turkey paying the “heaviest price” after Afrin.

We need your help. This war is chaotic already and our military power is decreasing day by day, we need to protect our comrades (and their families!) from Erdogan’s revenge and torture dungeons. Without international support, he will kill us one by one. Please make something. We are dying. Please hear us.

Western comrades, your warlord countries made this hell. Especially USA and EU made our “shithole countries” like this, after their Iraqi War and Syrian Civil War. When we ‘fix’ our broken land and defeated the Islamic State, your countries ‘support’ us(!) and saw us as their ‘coalition partner’, when Erdogan started the invasion they all played blind! We are not Barzani, we wont forget! They remember ‘PKK case’ like a miracle? What is chance? ISIS HAS GONE! Your countries SOLD US!

Millions of Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Armenian, Assyrian, Greek peoples are sold by USA, Russia and the International Coalition.

So make them regret this.

If Rojava, Bakur, and we, revolutionaries lose, also YOU will lose. Rojava, like Chiapas, is not only our gain but its part of the anti-neoliberal global revolution.

So all anarchists, anti-authoritarians, revolutionary Marxists and democratic confederalists have to support us and have to do something to stop this war.

(slightly edited for clarity by Insurrection News)

Tags: RojavaHelpturkeycategory: International
Categories: News

Albany Anarchists, Radicals Stand in Solidarity with J20 Defendants at Benefit

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 15:56

via love and rage media

by Black Cat Connolly / Love and Rage – NY

ALBANY – The Albany anarchist and radical community came out en mass to celebrate and support J20 defendants at a benefit show thrown at community education space The Albany Free School in the city’s Mansion District. The event put on by “friendly neighborhood anarchists,” featured over a dozen bands from around the capital region, vegan pizza sourced and catered by Albany Food Not Bombs, and a raffle with anarchist themed prizes donated by groups such as It’s Going Down and AK Press.

Preceding the benefit show, J20 defendant George C. and Defend J20 Resistance participant Betty R. were able to commandeer a speaking slot at the Women’s March to educate the largely liberal crowd about the actions and experiences of J20 defendants. In an inspiring speech that took a decidedly different tone than those given by the politicians and profiteers slated to speak, George and Betty directly challenged the systems of power that enable the abuses experienced by J20 defendants.

anarchistpizza.jpg

George began by informing the march-goers about the extra-legal punishment experienced by those facing unlawful prosecution by the state, “I think it is important to understand the process is part of the punishment. The psychological toll of fearing prison and constantly having to go to DC for court. The strain this has had on people’s friends, family, and relationships. People have lost their jobs; students have run into trouble with their schools. I know some folks who have even attempted suicide in the past year.”

20180120_131659Betty re-enforced the need to stand in solidarity with all J20 defendants, “Even if you’re the type of person to shed tears for a broken bank window, you should be able to find it within yourself to stand in solidarity with each and every J20 defendant and against these egregious charges.”

The speakers did not hesitate to confront the oppressive power and authority that democracy and the electoral system perpetuate. As George concluded: “I want to make the point that this isn’t just about Trump. This is about presidency itself; presidency is a very real and serious obstacle towards us living in a better, freer world. If we want to stand up for ourselves and for each other. If we want to fight against the discrimination or oppression of people based on their race, gender, sexuality, and class. If we want to live in a world where we aren’t being brutalized by the police, the courts, prisons and the monetary system. We need to see fundamental change in the society we live in. And that kind of change isn’t going to come through, Trump, Obama, Bernie Sanders, the Mayor of Albany or anyone like them. That change can only come through us: the people.”

After the more somber task of reliving the oppressive actions of the state at J20, more celebratory festivities commenced at The Albany Free School. The lineup of bands spanned scenes and genres in a true show of community solidarity. The mood felt joyous and the large crowd diverse as anarchists and radical activists mingled with more adventurous women’s march participants, neighborhood residents, and groups of children running about.

j20solidarity2.jpg

Adam B., who helped organize Food Not Bombs participation in the event, was pleased with the turnout, “I’m really happy about how much of the community came out in support. This event is an important demonstration of praxis, linking revolutionary struggle with community support and mutual aid. This would not have been possible without The Free School, Albany Food Not Bombs, and local anarchists and other community activists working together.”

Sets alternated between large rooms upstairs and downstairs, while a literature table with large collection of radical and anarchist zines kept people busy between bands. The show was highlighted by performances from Modern Psychics (whose member helped organize the event), Prison, and Hate Club. Other performers included Tall Ass Matt, Allyson Smith, Drive Me Home Please, Hospital Corner, El Kennedy, Triya Love, Nxnes, Utah, and Illiptical and Solour-T. All told, the event saw well over 100 attendees and raised more than $1300 for J20 defendants and other local radical organizations, while accomplishing many of the goals the organizers intended to achieve.

j20solidarity3.jpg

“This event was intended to help bring people together from different political backgrounds, whether it was human rights, animal rights, environmentalism, or anti-oppression oriented,” said Dave G. one of the organizers of the event. “We wanted people to broaden their scope and realize another world is possible.”

Black Cat Connolly is an anarchist organizer and member of the Albany General Defense Committee of the Upstate IWW GMB, he can be reached at black_cat_connolly@riseup.net.

Tags: j20anarchists in troublealbanycategory: Actions
Categories: News

Croatia: Zagreb Anarchist Bookfair 2018

Tue, 01/23/2018 - 15:48

via contra info

received 1/22/18

The fourteenth Zagreb Anarchist Bookfair will take place in Zagreb from April 6th to April 8th, 2018. The bookfair will take place in AKC Medika, Pierottijeva 11.

Anarchist Bookfair in Zagreb (ASK – Anarhisticki sajam knjiga) is annual anarchist event and first eleven bookfairs went well, and we hope to bring in more and more people every year as participants, publishers, groups, projects – whoever is interested in what the bookfair has to offer.

For discussion part everything is open, as every year, so all suggestions, ideas, etc are welcome, as well as texts that you find interesting for further debate.

ASK takes place in Zagreb every spring, as a local resource for anarchist and libertarian books and other publications. We also aim to open discussion on subjects that are important for the anarchist movement, or for our local community.

The idea for such a bookfair is not new, but is based on the positive experience of other Anarchist Bookfairs. In many different situations, these bookfairs have proven to be important events and meeting places on both local and international levels.
This is why we need your help – come and support this event with solidarity and participation!

If you can’t come to our bookfair, you can consider sending some free publications, posters and other material. Also, you can consider sending books and other publications for sale, we will organise stall for all of you that can’t come, but would like to present your work at the bookfair. Contact us at anarhisticki.sajam.knjiga@gmail.com about details, address to send stuff to, etc.

Participation

To help us organize the Bookfair and finish the program on time, we need you to confirm your participation soon as possible. Our e-mail address is: anarhisticki.sajam.knjiga@gmail.com

Get in touch and let us know in which way you would like to participate. Here are a few questions, and we welcome any additional information.

Also, let us know if you need accommodation. There are a few alternatives, but we need all the details soon as possible.

Some of the details that we need from you:

1. Questions for all guests coming from outside Zagreb:

– how you want to participate?
– would you like to do presentation, workshop or discussion at bookfair?
– do you need help with accommodation (Free sleeping places are limited)

2. If you would like a stall:

– how big of a stall do you need?
– do you need help at your stall?
– can you help with the costs of the Bookfair? (This is not a condition to have a stall, stalls are free.)
– we need some basic information about you (contact, what books/publishers you distribute [not list, just short info]…)

See program of the bookfair (coming soon!)

For more information:
web: www.ask-zagreb.org
e-mail: anarhisticki.sajam.knjiga@gmail.com

Tags: CroatiaAnarchist bookfairzagreb anarchist bookfaircategory: International
Categories: News

TOTW: Practical anarchy

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 23:27

Some years ago there was an anarchist magazine called Practical Anarchy put out by the Alternative Media project. The publication advocated for anarchy as a practice, "such as organizing housing cooperatives, environmentalism, workplaces and DIY media." In short, the idea of the magazine was about putting the ideas of anarchism into every day practice.

What do you do when you're not fighting the cops and battling fascists in the streets? What are your practical anarchy attacks on every day life or in other words; how do you put your anarchist ideas into practice each day? What are your favorite things to do that may not be anarchist at heart, but connect you back to the most beautiful idea? Is this approach to an anarchy of every day and a practical anarchy any different from your current framework? Why / Why not?

Tags: totwpractical anarchyput a little anarchy into your lifeanarchy is everywherelifestylisminfoshop.orgfixing potholescategory: Projects
Categories: News

Chelsea Manning’s Anarchist Campaign

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 23:24

From The American Conservative

Less than a year after being released from prison, whistleblower Chelsea Manning, known mostly for releasing a series of military logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, has filed to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland as a Democrat. She almost certainly won’t defeat her primary opponent, incumbent Senator Ben Cardin. That doesn’t matter.

If Chelsea Manning were to miraculously win both the Democratic primary and general election, it’s even less likely that she would be able to accomplish any of her main policy goals. Few if any other senators would sign on to immediately abolishing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), let alone doing the same to prisons and the military. That also doesn’t matter.

What matters is that Chelsea Manning will have greater access to the public ear on those and other issues. While she hasn’t exactly been voiceless since leaving prison with over 320,000 followers on Twitter, her campaign gives her a platform from which her words can be reported by the press as those of a candidate for Senate.

This strategy is not original to Manning.

For example, despite being in Congress for a total of 23 years, less than half of a percent of the bills sponsored by former congressman Ron Paul ever became law. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns were similarly ill-fated by any traditional analysis.

It was Paul’s answers during the debates that stuck in the public mind and created a serious cultural shift. A 2007 exchange with Rudy Giuliani alerted viewers to the concept of “blowback,” the idea that terrorist activities against Americans are best understood as reactions to past U.S. military interventions and covert operations. From the halls of Congress, Paul was able to expand on this idea by asking Americans to consider how they might react to a Chinese occupation of Texas—an anti-war parable that then became a major campaign ad during his 2012 run.

That is why, despite the fact that Paul lost miserably in both of his presidential runs, and despite Manning’s almost certain loss in her senatorial race, their campaigns are infinitely more important than those of their opponents. The McCains and Cardins occupy positions of power and go through the motions of the existing political machinery. The Pauls and Mannings, however, can fundamentally transform the political culture over time. That change is more significant, because it is the political culture that defines the limits within which those with power can act in the first place.

Consider the electorally disastrous 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. Goldwater carried only six states but, as time passed, imitations of his particular conservative vision came to dominate the Republican Party.

If Manning were to receive anywhere close to the attention of those candidates, she could have an even greater effect. This is because she seems acutely aware that there is a world beyond the state, and that politics is about much more than policy.

Manning’s first campaign ad mentions no policy proposals, nor does it say anything about how she would govern. Rather it strikes against the idea that what’s really needed in the first place is new federal policy. Amid images of black flags and riot cops, she tells viewers: “We don’t need more or better leaders…We need to stop asking them to give us our rights. They won’t support us…We don’t need them anymore. We can do better.”

This message echoes that of anarchist author Karl Hess who, in his 1975 book Dear America, wrote: “The leaders have failed. Before that failure becomes fatal, it could be erased by the new age of fully participatory social organization…of one stateless world, of privilege ended and responsibility begun…of self-management…The leaders have failed. Leadership has failed. Now it is our turn.”

Hess was no stranger to practicality in politics. Before becoming disillusioned with conservatism, he had been the primary author of the 1960 and 1964 Republican Party platforms, and, coincidentally, one of Goldwater’s main speechwriters. What drew him away from conservatism towards anarchism was a frustration with a top-down model of society that assumes social change must come from elites acting through the state. He came to believe instead that politically motivated people should act directly upon society themselves.

This framework for politics has a long history of anarchist-inspired projects, from radical labor unions like the Industrial Workers of the World, to grassroots disaster recovery like the Common Ground Collective in post-Katrina New Orleans, to attempts at routing the drug war like the Silk Road’s online marketplace. It is that history—the history of direct actionthat Manning draws upon in her campaign rhetoric.

Her message looks for solutions not in public policies that would, at best, be warped beyond recognition by the internal dynamics of state power. It looks for them in the power of individuals motivated to build a new world on their own. With so many politicians pledging to shake up Washington, it’s Manning’s campaign that’s truly revolutionary.

Jason Lee Byas is a fellow at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org). He is also a Ph.D. student in Philosophy, living in Champaign, Ill. and Norman, Okla.

Tags: Chelsea Manningelectoral politicsc4sscategory: Other
Categories: News

On friendship and happiness: Reflections on joyful militancy

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 22:30

via autonomies

Yue Minjun

But in much of Ionia and elsewhere in the Persian Empire the rule is that love-affairs are wrong. In Persia, it is because of their tyrannical government that they condemn them, as well as intellectual and athletic activities. No doubt, it doesn’t suit their government that their subjects should have big ideas or develop strong friendships and personal bonds, which are promoted by all of the these activities, especially by love.

Plato, The Symposium

We share two essays based on excerpts from the recently published Joyful Militancy: Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times, co-authored by Montgomery and bergman and published by AK Press.

Friendship is a root of freedom

To become what we need to each other, and to find power in friendship, is to become dangerous.

anonymous [1]

I have a circle of friends and family with whom I am radically vulnerable and trust deeply – we call it coevolution through friendship.

adrienne maree brown [2]

These are not just words; they are clues and prods to earthquakes in kin making that are not limited to Western family apparatuses, heteronormative or not.

Donna Haraway [3]

Freedom was once inseparable from interdependence, close ties, and kinship: I am free because of others I can depend on. Today, freedom tends to mean something different. It is about being unconstrained and having options. Look for the dictionary definition of freedom today and one finds rights and choices at the core, applied to an isolated individual. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

“The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants:
‘we do have some freedom of choice’
The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved:
‘the shark thrashed its way to freedom’
The state of not being subject to or affected by (something undesirable):
‘government policies to achieve freedom from want’”[4]

At bottom, all of these definitions are about getting away from external restriction or influence: being unhindered, unaffected, independent. The 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbes imagined freedom as nothing more than an ‘absence of opposition’ possessed by individuals. For Hobbes, the free man is constantly armed and on guard; “when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his house he locks his chests.”[5] Hobbes imagined a form of life that would become more and more pervasive: an isolated and selfish existence backed by contracts and violence—a vision of freedom fused with exploitation.

When peasants were ‘freed,’ during Hobbes’ time, it often meant that they had been forced from their lands and their means of subsistence, leaving them free to sell their labor for a wage, or starve. It is no coincidence that this lonely conception of freedom arose at the same time as the European witch trials, the enclosure of common lands, the rise of the transatlantic slave trade, and the colonization and genocide of the Americas. At the same time as the meaning of freedom was divorced from friendship and interdependence, the lived connections between people and places were being dismembered.

Over centuries, kinship would be enclosed within the nuclear family, freedom within the individual, and values within morality and law. Together, these enclosures carve out a void for the ‘free individual’ of modern capitalism: a sad and lonely fiction, walled-in by self-interest, and based on the ideal of a healthy, patriarchal, white, rational, property-owning man. This uprooted being sees his rootlessness—his very incapacity to make and sustain transformative connections—as a feat of excellence.

If capitalism works by dismembering transformative relationships, can friendship be revalued as a radical, transformative form of kinship? Maybe the concept of friendship is already too colonized. Under neoliberalism, friendship is a banal affair of private preferences: we hang out, we share hobbies, we make small talk. We become friends with those who are already like us, who keep us comfortable, rather than becoming different and more capable together. The algorithms of Facebook and other social networks shepherd us towards the ceaseless refinement of our profiles, reducing friendship to the click of a button.[6]

This neoliberal friend is the alternative to hetero and homonormative coupling: ‘just friends’ implies a much weaker and insignificant bond than a lover could ever be. In neoliberal friendship, our everyday lives aren’t tangled up together: we don’t really need each other to live. But these insipid tendencies don’t mean that friendships are pointless; only that friendship itself is a terrain of struggle. The dominant order works to usher its subjects into flimsy relationships where nothing is at stake, and to infuse intimacy with violence and domination.

Maybe friendship can be revalued in an expansive but specific way: it could mean friends, chosen family, and other kin, intimately connected in a web of mutual support. This could be a process through which people come to depend on and defend each other. Intersecting currents of disability justice, youth liberation, queer movements, feminism, ecology, anarchism, Indigenous resurgence, and Black liberation have all emphasized the centrality of nurturing strong relationships while destroying toxic ones. Friendship as freedom, in this story, names a dangerous closeness that capitalism works to eradicate through violence, division, management, and incitements to see ourselves as isolated individuals or nuclear family units.

In spite of centuries of colonization and enclosures, the vapid ideal of individual freedom still can’t get a hold on many parts of the world. Even in Europe, where so many tools of colonization were refined, the roots of freedom were different. Centuries ago, some Europeans had a more relational conception of freedom, which wasn’t just about the absence of external constraints, but also about our immersion in the relationships that sustain us and make us thrive.

“Freedom” and “friend” share the same early Indo-European root: *fri, or *pri, meaning “love.”[7] This root made its way into Gothic, Norse, Celtic, Hindi, Russian and German. To be ‘free’ was not to be unrestricted, but to be a friend among loved ones. As The Invisible Committee write in To Our Friends,

“‘Friend’ and ‘free’ in English…come from the same Indo-European root, which conveys the idea of a shared power that grows. Being free and having ties was one and the same thing. I am free because I have ties, because I am linked to a reality greater than me.”[8]

Along with thinkers like Colectivo Situaciones, Eve Sedgwick, Brian Massumi, Lauren Berlant and Sara Ahmed, the Invisible Committee is part of a current of radical thought that is grounded in affect.[9] Often traced to the thought of Baruch Spinoza, affect theory cuts against the grain of the divisions between nature/culture, mind/body, and subject/object that helped birth capitalism. Spinoza’s work remained marginal compared to Descartes and Hobbes, but his relational worldview has been taken up by radicals at the edges of philosophy, ecology, feminism, and marxism and anarchism.[10]

For Spinoza, bodies are not defined by what they are, but by what they do: how they affect and are affected by the forces of the world. In this way, capabilities are not fixed, but constantly shifting. This is a fundamental departure from the inherently ableist and ageist perspective that measures all bodies in relation to the norm of a ‘healthy,’ ‘mature’ or ‘able’ body. It runs against dominant strands of both Western knowledge and morality, which strive for universalism and generalizability: they ask what humans are, what we should do, or what we usually do (and how we can be controlled).

In contrast, an affective perspective starts right from a body’s material specificity, without any intervening norm, attuning us to the singularity and openness of bodies and situations: what are we capable of here and now, together, at this time, in this place amidst the relations in which we are embedded?

Beginning in the middle

…friendship will be the soil from which a new politics will emerge…

Ivan Illich[11]

Affect begins in the middle: amidst our situations, in our neighborhoods, with our own penchants, habits, loves, complicities and connections. There is no individual that comes before the dense network of relations we’re enmeshed in. We are always shaping our worlds, and being shaped by them. Freedom can mean nothing other than the active participation in affect: the expansion of what we’re capable of—what we’re able to feel and do together. In this vein, the Invisible Committee writes:

“freedom isn’t the act of shedding our attachments, but the practical capacity to work on them, to move around in their space, to form or dissolve them…the freedom to uproot oneself has always been a fantasmic freedom. We can’t rid ourselves of what binds us without at the same time losing the very thing to which our forces would be applied.”[12]

Freedom here is not the absence of restriction, but the capacity to become more active in shaping our attachments and situations. This becoming-active is not about controlling things, but about learning to participate in their flow, forming intense bonds through which we become implicated in each others’ struggles and capacities. Similarly, feminist philosopher Donna Haraway has argued that ‘making kin’ across divides of species, nation, gender and other borders is perhaps the most urgent task today.[13] Through friendship or kinship we undo and renew ourselves in potentially radical and dangerous ways. In this sense, freedom is rooted in friendship.

A story: two friends fold their lives together; they draw new capacities out of each other. They hurt each other, and they work through it, emerging more intertwined than before. They are no longer sure which ideas and mannerisms were ‘their own’ and which belonged to the friend. They know each others’ triggers and tendencies, intimately. One finds himself in trouble, and the other drops everything to help, at great personal risk. But this risk and sacrifice is not because it is morally right, or because they have calculated that it is in their own self-interest. It is not even felt as a choice; it is something drawn out of them.

By creating relational webs that reinforce the values we aspire to, relationships can help undo violent or depleting patterns ingrained by capitalism and other forces of oppression. Loving relationships can be what allow us to face the things we fear about ourselves. They can help undo the ways that we have internalized notions that we are not good enough, not worthy of love, or that we have to put up with things that deplete us and those we care about. Relationships of mutual support can enable us to see and feel the toxicity of some of our attachments. They can help us to look at our patterns of addiction or depression without shame. Those we love can be our reasons to stay alive when we aren’t sure that we want to. They can help us leave miserable situations by leaping with us into the unknown. Friendships can be the source of our capacity to take risks and fight in new ways.

Rather than isolating us into cliques or enclaves, we believe that close ties of friendship and kinship can enable people to better extend themselves and show solidarity across differences and oppressive divisions. Close friends and loved ones allow us to gripe and vent so that we can be more compassionate and patient with those who don’t know us as well. They can help us process fears and anxieties so that we are better able to trust people and move towards trouble and discomfort. They can sit with us when we inevitably fuck up and flail. In turn, transformative struggle beyond friendship can deepen these bonds and generate new ones.

All this might be akin to what ‘friend’ meant to some of our European ancestors before the witch trials: not just someone to hang out with, but someone whose existence is inseparable from one’s own. A relationship crucial to life, worth fighting for.

The sharp edges of friendship and freedom

If one would have a friend, then must one also be willing to wage war for him: and in order to wage war, one must be capable of being an enemy.

Frederich Nietzsche [14]

Friendship as freedom is not about ignoring the horrors of our time, or finding comfort and safety as the world burns. Working on relationships also means the capacity to dissolve and sever them, and to block those which are harmful. In these times, feelings of despair, rage, and hatred can indicate a healthy receptivity to what is taking place; a refusal to numb ourselves to the destruction in motion. Those who are in touch with all this are often shamed or pathologized, and capitalism responds with individualizing offers of consumerism, pharmaceuticals, and self-help. Glen Coulthard drives home the importance of severing toxic ties:

“…the whole idea of a ‘good relationship’—a positive one instead of a negative one—is almost entirely coopted by relationship-destroying structures that entrench violence, dispossession, disappearance, all these things, where we’re always compelled to be productive. It’s a compulsion that’s insisted on and that is done asymmetrically across certain bodies. So it’s a demand that’s placed on us as Indigenous peoples, even in terms of having a conversation. It can even be about tone: your tone is negative… Some relationships are just bullshit and we shouldn’t be in them. We should actually draw lines in the sand more willingly, in order to avoid the kind of status quo outcome that’s caused by the compulsion to always be in a positive relationship to others. Others might suck. We shouldn’t be relating to them; we should be fighting them; we should be seeking to destroy them in some circumstances. Because their whole identity, their whole form of life is predicated on our negation… And there can be no mutual recognition, there can be no mutual respect, because the relationship itself negates that possibility.”[15]

Relational freedom necessarily includes undoing destructive relationships, dissolving or attacking depleting or harmful forces. Freedom is the capacity to make friends and enemies, to be open and to have firm boundaries. In this sense, the dominant order destroys our capacity to identify and attack that which depletes and destroys us: morality, policing, law, and prisons are all designed to monopolize the power to decide what is right and wrong, and how to respond to it.

Meaningful change comes from finding wiggle room to work on each other and our situations. It might entail supporting each other to become more present with despair, guilt, resentment, fear, anger, or grief. It might include channeling rage into blocking oppressive or extractive relationships, or blocking their flows, at least in part.

Freedom is the space that opens when knee-jerk reactions and stifling habits are suspended. It is the parent learning to trust their kid, or the teen who flees a violent home with support from friends. It is the scream of refusal that elicits rage and action from others. But the key is that one never does any of this alone, whether a humble gesture causing a subtle shift, or a decisive act catalyzing dramatic change. Freedom, gentleness and ferocity always comes from—and feeds back into—the web of relationships and affections in which everyone is immersed.

For the same reason, if reduced to an imperative to always have ‘good relationships’ with everyone and everything, friendship becomes simplistic and reactionary. Just as intimacy and closeness can be enabling, they can also be sources of coercion, manipulation, and exploitation. To insist on, seek out, or use friendship—and to pathologize its refusal—might regenerate the worst of the dominant order, where people are expected to stay in oppressive relationships, and their refusal dismissed as ‘counter-productive.’

Similar patterns arise to pathologize women and genderqueer folks who refuse to ‘get over’ heteropatriarchy, Black folks and people of color who refuse to ‘get over’ racism, Indigenous people who refuse to ‘reconcile,’ and everyone else who has experienced the liberal trope of let’s-all-get-along. Entitlement to others’ time, energy and love can be an unconscious strategy that reproduces domination through intimacy. Love and friendship can be contorted to enforce obedience, politeness or devotion.

To thrive, friendship cannot be a simplistic command to get along and be happy together. Freedom always needs to retain the potential of refusal, negation, and resistance. Transformative relationships are only possible through vulnerability and trust, but they also entail the risk of being deeply hurt. Sometimes friendship and close bonds are a messy mix of closeness, struggle, and distance. To turn friendship into a solution or a goal is to erase the form of freedom we are getting at, which is an open-ended capacity to transform relationships.

We can’t all be friends, and some forms of life will never be compatible. It can never be a totally inclusive, come-one-come-all process, some differences might mean that people cannot work together. Maybe. Differences might also signal potential for practices, orientations, and priorities that are resonant and complementary without becoming the same. Differences might then become starting points for new complicities and the growth of shared power.

If relationships are what compose the world—and what shape our desires, values, and capacities—then freedom is the capacity to participate more actively in this process of composition. Friendship and resistance are interconnected: when we are supported, we are more willing to confront that which threatens to destroy our worlds.

These values are not fixed duties that can be imitated, nor do they come out of thin air. They arise from struggles through which people become powerful together. It is not a question of being a certain way, but a question of open-ended becoming, starting from wherever people find themselves.

A persnickety linguist or historian might object that there is no unbroken line of insurgent friendship that lies hidden in history. They would be right: it is a zig-zagging, disjointed line, always being broken and reassembled, a story among other stories, resonant with many other non-European genealogies of relational freedom. But this elusiveness is what makes it precious and powerful: it is peoples’ capacity to constantly form new complicities amidst control and violence. Friendship is a process and an open question, with partial responses, further questions, flashes of certainty and confidence, and the refusal of definitive answers.

Footnotes

[1] Anonymous, “Robot Seals as Counter-Insurgency: Friendship and Power from Aristotle to Tiqqun,” Human Strike, August 27, 2013. https://humanstrike.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/robot-seals-as-counter-insurgency-friendship-and-power-from-aristotle-to-tiqqun/.
[2] brown, Interview with adrienne maree brown in Joyful Militancy.
[3] Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin,” Environmental Humanities6:1 (January 1, 2015), 161. doi:10.1215/22011919-3615934, 163.
[4] “Freedom – Definition of Freedom in English,” Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/freedom.
[5] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 2008), Chapter XIII, Of the Natural Condition of Mankind.
[6] Anonymous, “Robot Seals as Counter-Insurgency”
[7] Douglas Harper, “Free (Adj.),” Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed November 30, 2016. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=free.
[8] The Invisible Committee, To Our Friends, trans. Robert Hurley (South Pasadena: Semiotext(e), 2015), 127.
[9] Our reading of Spinoza is drawn primarily from Deleuze and those he has influenced. For helpful introductions to this lineage, see Gilles Deleuze, “Lecture on Spinoza’s Concept of Affect” (Lecture, Cours Vincennes, Paris, 1978), https://www.gold.ac.uk/media/deleuze_spinoza_affect.pdf; Michael Hardt, “The Power to Be Affected,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 28, no. 3 (September 1, 2015): 215–22, doi:10.1007/s10767-014-9191-x; Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect (Cambridge: Polity, 2015).
[10] Some books we have found helpful include Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Gilles Deleuze, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Zone Books, 1992); Moira Gatens, ed., Feminist Interpretations of Benedict Spinoza (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2009); Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991); Tiqqun, Introduction to Civil War, trans. Alexander R. Galloway and Jason E. Smith (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2010).
[11] Ivan Illich to Madhu Suri Prakash, “Friendship,” n.d.
[12] The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), 32.
[13] Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene.”
[14] Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, trans. Thomas Wayne (New York: Algora Publishing, 2003), 42.
[15] Coulthard, Interview with Glen Coulthard for Joyful Militancy.

Happiness is bullshit

Happiness is not joy. Under capitalism, happiness is a duty and unhappiness is a disorder. Companies increasingly sell happy experiences instead of products: happiness is a relaxing vacation on the beach, an intense night at the bar, a satisfying drink on a hot day, or contented retirement. As workers, we are expected to find happiness in our job. As consumers, we are encouraged to become connoisseurs and customizers, with an ever-more refined sense of what makes us happy. We are encouraged to base our lives on this search for happiness and its promises of pleasure, bliss, fulfillment, exhilaration, or arousal, depending on our tastes and proclivities (and our budget).

The search for happiness doesn’t just come through markets. We are also sold the rejection of upward mobility and consumerism as another form of placid containment: maybe you realize that what really makes you happy is a life in a small town where everyone knows your name, or a humble nuclear family, or kinky polyamory, or travel, or witty banter, or cooking fancy food, or awesome dance parties. The point is not that these activities are wrong or bad. But the dominant order empties them of their transformative potential, inviting us to shape our lives in thrall to happiness.

As feminist theorist Sara Ahmed writes,

to be conditioned by happiness is to like your condition […] consensus is produced through sharing happy objects, creating a blanket whose warmth covers over the potential of the body to be affected otherwise.[1]

As a warm blanket, the search for happiness closes off other possibilities, other textures, other feelings. Ahmed shows how the promise of happiness can be treacherous, encouraging us to ignore or turn away from suffering—our own or others’—if it threatens happiness. Happy promises have a gendered and racialized logic: this world is designed to secure white male happiness in particular, while policing the feelings of women, genderqueer and trans folks, and people of color. As Nishnaabe scholar and artist Leanne Betasamosake Simpson writes,

I am repeatedly told that I cannot be angry if I want transformative change—that the expression of anger and rage as emotions are wrong, misguided, and counter-productive to the movement. The underlying message in such statements is that we, as Indigenous and Black peoples, are not allowed to express a full range of human emotions. We are encouraged to suppress responses that are not deemed palatable or respectable to settler society. But the correct emotional response to violence targeting our families is rage.[2]

Imperatives to be happy, nice, or kind can sustain violence and force out antagonism. If we are not happy—if we are depressed, anxious, addicted, or “crazy”—we are tasked with fixing ourselves, or at least with managing our symptoms. Unhappiness, rage, resentment, and grief are turned into individual disorders, to be dealt with through pharmaceuticals, self-help, therapy, and other atomizing responses. The warm blanket of happiness is an anesthetic. Those who reject happy promises are also subject to control and coercion: being perceived as a threat to the happiness of others—especially those who have shaped their lives around happy promises—can be lethal.

The point is not that happiness is always bad, or that being happy means being complicit with oppression. Happiness can also be subversive and dangerous, as part of a process through which one becomes more alive and capable. But when happiness becomes something to be gripped or chased after as the meaning of life, it tends to lose its transformative potential.

If our own desires sometimes keep us stuck in toxic habits, the challenge is not to reveal a truth, as if we’ve all been duped. Nor is it about rejecting happiness in favor of duty or self-sacrifice. Because capitalism shapes our very aspirations and moods, resisting bullshit happiness means participating more fully in the shape of our own desires. This entails refusing to avoid pain, and instead struggling amidst and through it. For instance, making space for collective feelings of rage, grief, or loneliness can be deeply transformative, but not happy.[3]Undoing our own subjection might be subtle and tender, or it might be a violent act of refusal. Sometimes these shifts are barely perceptible and take place over decades, and sometimes they are dramatic and world-shaking.

One name for this process is joy. This is not the conventional meaning of joy, as a pseudo-religious synonym for bliss, but a concept cribbed from the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and contemporary affect theory.[4] From this perspective, joy isn’t an emotion at all, but a process that moves us away from conditioned habits, reactions, and emotions. It is the thinking-feeling that arises from becoming capable of more, and often this entails feeling many emotions at once. Joy can be devastating, painful, and dangerous. Whereas happiness is used as a stifling anesthetic, joy is the growth of a sense that things are different, that we are different, that a more capable “we” is forming that didn’t exist before.

The point is not to chase after joy instead of happiness, but to tune into and transform the here-and-now of our own situations. Joy promises nothing, and this is what makes it powerful.

Footnotes

[1] Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 192.

[2] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “Indict the System: Indigenous & Black Connected Resistance,” LeanneSimpson.ca, http://leannesimpson.ca/indict-the-system-indigenous-black-connected-resistance/

[3] For more on this, see Cindy Milstein, ed, Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief (Oakland: AK Press, 2017).

[4] This interpretation of Spinoza’s concept of joy comes from many sources, but one of the most helpful is Mary Zournazi’s interview with the affect theorist Brian Massumi, in which he distinguishes joy from happiness. See Mary Zournazi, “Navigating Movements: A Conversation with Brian Massumi,” in Hope: New Philosophies for Change, by Mary Zournazi (New York: Routledge, 2002), 241-242.

Tags: friendshiphappinesscategory: Essays
Categories: News

Santiago, Chile: Incendiary Attack Against the Mother of Divine Providence Parish During the Visit of the Pope

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 20:28

via insurrection news

Around 05:00hrs on January 16, 2018, the Mother of Divine Providence Parish located in the commune of Puente Alto suffered an arson attack.

Anonymous attackers managed to break the padlock of the perimeter fence of the religious temple, then set the Vatican and Chilean flags on fire at the the feet of a sculpture of the Virgin, as well as throwing incendiary devices at the doors of the Parish.

The fire began to spread both at the door and inside the Parish before being discovered by priests and security guards who extinguished it. At the scene they would have found anarchist leaflets which were not mentioned by the media, but would have contained slogans against religion and the Pope’s visit to Chile.

GOPE (Special Operations Police Group), Labocar (forensic investigation police) and prosecutors arrived at the scene to investigate the arson attack that adds to the series of incendiary and explosive attacks before the Pope’s visit, the arson attack against a church in Melipilla and the burning of religious temples in Wallmapu.*

(via Noticias de la Guerra Social, translated by Insurrection News)

*Note from Insurrection News: Mention should also be made of the incendiary/explosive attack against the Apostolistic Movement of Schoenstatt Sanctuary in La Florida, that was claimed by the Anticlerical Incendiary Cell ‘Hortensia Quinio’ FAI-FRI.

Categories: News

Tension rises as Turkey sends troops to YPG stronghold

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 19:15

From Al Jazeera

The US has urged Turkey to exercise restraint in its ongoing military operation in northern Syria as Turkish ground forces pressed ahead against the Syrian Kurdish group YPG in the enclave of Afrin.

Washington considers the YPG its closest ally in Syria, viewing it as the most effective ground force in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the US Department of State, said on Sunday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with his Turkish and Russian counterparts on the phone and called against an escalation in fighting in northern Syria.

"We urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties," said Nauert.

The statement on Sunday came just hours after Turkey said its ground troops had crossed into northern Syria.

Ankara considers Syria's Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the YPG, "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long fight inside Turkey.

It fears the establishment of a Kurdish corridor along its border.

Speaking in Istanbul earlier on Sunday, Binali Yildirim, Turkey's prime minister, said Turkish forces had crossed into the YPG-controlled region in Syria at 08:05 GMT from the Turkish village of Gulbaba.

He said Turkey intended to establish a 30km "safe zone" in Afrin.

"Throughout the day we've heard the sound of jets in the sky, intense artillery and machine-gun fire," Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, said.

The Turkish army has said it is targeting only "terrorist" positions and "utmost importance" was being given to not harm civilians.

'Well-trained' force

According to estimates, there are between 8,000 to 10,000 Kurdish YPG fighters in the Afrin area.

"Turkey says it will continue its operation until it has pushed the YPG away from its borders," our correspondent said.

No one knows how long this will take or what the implications may be.

"The YPG are extremely well trained. They know the terrain in Afrin but Turkey has superiority in the skies, and that is a huge advantage."

Reacting to Turkey's ground advance into Syria, France called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

"Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin - France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council," Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said on Twitter on Sunday.

Le Drian said he had talked to his Turkish counterpart during the day and called for a complete ceasefire in Syria.

France's request for the emergency meeting comes one day after the Turkish operation against the YPG began.

On Saturday, Turkish jets carried out air raids against targets in Afrin.

Russia, which controls the airspace over Afrin, withdrew hundreds of its soldiers deployed near the city before Turkey's operation began.

Several diplomats and mission chiefs of the permanent members of Security Council - the US, Russia, the UK, France and China - were brought up to speed on the developments in Afrin.

Erdogan's warning

For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he hoped the military operation would be completed "in a very short time".

But Erdogan also warned pro-Kurdish opposition supporters in Turkey not to hold protests.

"Know that if you go out on the streets, authorities are on your necks," he told thousands of supporters in Bursa.

"This is a national struggle, and we will crush anyone who opposes our national struggle."

Earlier, Anadolu news agency reported that Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters had advanced towards Afrin in the early hours of Sunday, supported by Turkish troops.

The YPG confirmed the advance, saying two villages in Afrin's Bilbil district near the Turkish border had come under attack.

About 25,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels were joining the Turkish military operation in northern Syria with the goal of recapturing Arab towns and villages held by the YPG, a Syrian rebel commander told Reuters news agency on Sunday.

As early as Friday, thousands of FSA fighters had already been mobilised in Turkey's Hatay province and Syrian locations east of Afrin.

Major Yasser Abdul Rahim, who is also the commander of Failaq al-Sham, a main FSA rebel group in the operations room of the campaign, said the rebels did not seek to enter Afrin but encircle it and expel the YPG.

"We have no interest in entering the city only the military targets inside the city and the villages around it. We aim to encircle the city and ensure the militias are evicted. We won't fight in the city as we have no problem with civilians," he said.

A main goal of the military operation was to recapture Tel Rifaat, a town southeast of Afrin, and a string of Arab villages the YPG captured from rebels in February 2016, driving out tens of thousands of inhabitants, Abdul Rahim said.

"The task of the Free Syrian Army is first to regain sixteen Arab towns and villages occupied by the foreign militias [YPG] with the help of the Russian air force," Abdul Rahim told Reuters in a phone interview from inside Syria.

The fighting Abdul Rahim was referring to forced at least 150,000 residents of these villages to flee to Azaz.

They are sheltering in camps at the Turkish border and rebels say they have not been allowed to go back to their homes.

On Saturday, Erdogan said the operation in Afrin would be followed by a push in the northern town of Manbij, which the US-backed Kurdish forces captured from ISIL in 2016.

Tags: RojavaYPGturkeySyriaKurdsMSMcategory: International
Categories: News

Anews Podcast – episode 47

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 17:09

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2018/01/22/anews-podcast-epi...

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 47 for January 19, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week.

Editorial: Authenticity Today
TOTW – Trump

This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
* sound edited by Linn O’Mable
* editorial by chisel
* written by jackie
* narrated by chisel and a friend
* Thanks to Aragorn! and Ariel for their help with the topic of the week
* Contact us at podcast@anarchistnews.org
To learn more

Introduction to anarchism: http://anarchy101.org
Books and other anarchist material: http://littleblackcart.com
News and up to the minute commentary: https://anarchistnews.org

Tags: trumpauthenticitycategory: Projects
Categories: News

An Anarchist Survey of Amazon: Day Two

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 07:41

From Transmetropolitan Review

Since the conclusion of our previous survey, two interesting events occurred in various Amazon facilities. In one instance, a fulfillment center was torched in the British Midlands. In another instance, coordinated strikes hit Amazon in Germany and Northern Italy. All of this preceded the holiday sales blitz and threw Amazon into internal chaos. At the end of the holiday season, all Amazon could tout was its toxic accomplishment of shipping one billion commodities and selling “tens of millions” of talking Alexa units. When the shopping extravaganza was over, the corporate employees of Amazon were rewarded with a lavish spectacle to sooth their overworked souls.

signal-2018-01-20-141110

Their annual Post-Holiday Party was held within the CenturyLink Stadium, otherwise known as the Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. The entire facility was commandeered by the corporation and when we arrived it appeared as if a football game were taking place. Police directed traffic in and out of the stadium area and a stampede of well dressed parties flooded towards the entrance. This was the only day of the year where their employer gave them something for free. This was where our survey began.

Security was very lose and we entered without issue or incident. This laxness was due in large part to the fact that Jeff Bezos was not going to be there. Our first observation was that the majority of Amazon employees in Seattle are between the ages of 25 and 35, many of whom wore Romanesque laurels around their heads. The only major exceptions were immigrant tech employees on H1B visas who were mostly in their 40s and early 50s. Our first stop was the silent dancing area where two hundred employees danced to music over specialty headphones provided for the occasion. It was eerily reminiscent of the celibate loner cult depicted in the film The Lobster who danced silently to their headphones in the middle of a forest.

signal-2018-01-20-141121

We snapped the enclosed photograph in the middle of this surreal and disturbing environment, after which we proceeded to the next area where we encountered twenty steaming silver trays of macaroni and cheese. The quality was quite good but the abundance of this dairy-rich food proved to be slightly nauseating. In the next area we found doughnuts, cookies, and Starbucks coffee, all of which was provided for free. At the entrance of the stadium we managed to obtain several alcohol tickets which could be redeemed at the various bars. Each guest was meant to only have two tickets, after which they could pay seven dollars per drink. Our group bypassed this for the entire evening, as bottles of wine and cans of beer were easy to steal in this environment. The service workers had no incentive to care. There were SPD officers and King County Sheriffs hired for the event but they were stationed near the front doors away from the food.

Our second major observation was that everyone in the stadium betrayed a compulsive willingness to stand in line, even when there was no apparent reason. Our group initially found ourselves standing in various lines only to discover they were entirely pointless. With this simple object lesson in mind, we proceeded to cut every line we encountered with great success. We eventually made it into the stadium where we passed beneath a gate reminiscent of a concentration camp. This was apparently part of the 80s theme and emblazoned with the shiny command HAVE FUN. The mildly Vaporwave aesthetic of the evening drew from the current love of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. Given this was Amazon, the retro aesthetic even included a real life CIA conspiracy lurking in the background of this neon-lit stadium party. Rather than serving hamburgers and hotdogs to Seahawks fans, the vending stands in the stadium now distributed a variety of free food to the Amazon employees. We cut in line at every occasion and enjoyed complimentary pho, empenadas, fried chicken, tomato bisque soup, and other savory items. It was quite overwhelming but we managed to get through it.

Each employee was allowed to bring a “plus-one” and it soon became clear why Lorde was invited as the main performer at the event. With this famous singer headlining a free Amazon party, the mostly male workforce was better able to secure a date for the evening. While there were many exceptions, the majority of attendees were coupled off for the event. We noticed several older men with younger dates, just as we observed the majority of millennial employees to have dates drawn from their own age group. This transparent tactic to increase the appeal of male Amazon employees in Seattle and fuel their sexual economy was plain to see during this Post-Holiday Party. Tens of thousands packed in to see Lorde perform but they seemed to prefer watching her through the projection screens rather than dancing before them in person. Lorde caused a minor stir when she asked the crowd if some random art object in the stadium was in fact the Amazon logo. She claimed she didn’t know, that she didn’t have an account, and she received scattered boos from the employees in response. She reminded the crowd that Amazon had yet to plant itself in New Zealand and left it at that. She finished her performance to a sea of smartphone cameras and then departed, scattering the crowd back into the stadium.

We had initially planned to lay a curse on Jeff Bezos, believing he would introduce Lorde to the crowd. As we would learn that evening, the CEO never came to these events. They were simply a release valve for the overworked employees who have every reason to despise him as a person. This exceptional evening was meant to compensate for the alienation these people otherwise experience inside and outside of the workplace. At least 15,000 employees aged 25-35 were on display last night as the new capitalist subject meant to replace the traditional worker. Outside of their stadium party, these capitalist subjects are meant to drive up housing costs, maintain high standards of living, and remain in their alienated world of tech induced consumption and narcosis. Many of them are growing sick of this arrangement, based on our observations inside the stadium.

Perhaps in another time our group might have been overwhelmed by the luxury and extravagance of this Post-Holiday Party, succumbing to its opulence and finding ways to rationalize its existence. As it was, we found this spectacle to be entirely undesirable and yet vastly illuminating. We glimpsed the local Amazon workforce in its entirety and beheld a vital portion of its contemporary misery. These people are so used to waiting in line they can do nothing else. They drift from feeding trough to feeding trough until its time to go home to their expensive housing unit in preparation for the work week.

The negative economic effect these people have on Seattle is well-documented and yet these workers seem to be all but paralyzed in the face of the current situation. Their wealth is contrasted every day with the network of favelas and encampments that have spread throughout the city. Each day sees the new Amazon towers rise higher into the air, promising to bring ten thousand more of these high paid workers to the city and heighten the volatility of the current situation. Not all of these workers are happy or amused about the situation they’re in. Many are starting to think for themselves and will one day challenge Jeff Bezos from inside his own war camp.

We had planned to level a curse at Bezos similar to the one leveled by the three witches against Macbeth, King of Scotland. This will have to wait for another time, although the trajectories of Bezos and Macbeth are already tracking very closely. With all his enemies defeated in the path to the throne, the mad king Bezos now awaits his final destruction. We will continue our efforts to study and subvert Amazon’s workforce in Seattle in the hope that it will prove useful for others. We’ve made contact with dozens of employees and the rebellious seeds we’ve planted are now locked in an irreversible growth pattern. People like Jeff Bezos can’t even see the angry roots creeping beneath his fragile castle. We will release another study in the coming days. Good luck in all your efforts. Let’s hope we can figure this all out before it’s too late for everyone.

Tags: seattleoldskoolsneaksocietyAmazoncategory: Essays
Categories: News

TFSRadio: Mutual Aid in Caguas (PR) & La ZAD Wins?

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 21:57

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Interviews

This week on the Final Straw, we air two interviews.

In the first segment, we hear from two organizers with the Centro de Apoyo Mutuo or Mutual Aid Center in Caguas, Puerto Rico. Emilu and Kique talk about Caguas, about the colonial relationship between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, the post-hurricane disaster relief they've been doing as a continuation of social organizing in the wake of that colonialism, and building a network of C-A-Ms around Puerto Rico. More on their project can be found on fedbook.

 

Then we hear from Camille, a resident of the ZAD in Notre Dame des Landes in Western France. Camille shares the news of the recent French government statement that they are cancelling the planned airport in NDDL, which has been a goal of social movements and the land occupation at the ZAD. More info on that project can be found at zad.nadir.org. To hear our past interviews on the ZAD, check out this initial interview, this response to major demonstrations in Nantes, this conversation with participants at ZAD du Testet, this response to the police killing of Remi Fraisse in relation to the ZAD du Testet and this interview from Dissident Island Radio about State of Emergency.
Trans Prisoner Day of Solidarity, Event in Asheville
TOMORROW January 22nd is the 3rd annual Trans Prisoner Day of Solidarity as initiated in 2016 by eco-anarchist prisoner Marius Mason. Last year's call-out, plus a list of some events around the U.S. can be found at itsgoingdown. If you're in Asheville, Tranzmission Prison Project will be hosting a card signing event and discussion at 7pm at Firestorm Books and Coffee. Cards will be supplied and it's suggested to bring vegan snacks to share.
Breaking News from the VA NLG
Third Charlottesville Counter-Protestor Arrested
January 21, 2018:

Charlottesville, VA: Mr. Donald Blakney was arrested at his home on Friday by Charlottesville Police Department (CPD). He is charged with Malicious Wounding — a felony that carries a 5 year minimum and the possibility of up to 20 years in prison.

On August 12, he was physically attacked by a participant in the Unite the Right rally, who also yelled racist slurs at him. Later that fall, he was questioned by CPD and the FBI under the pretext of the ongoing criminal investigation into right-wing violence that day.

The charges against Mr. Blakney are apparently based in part on a video broadcast by the ABC News program 20/20 that depicts him at the scene.

Mr. Blakney is the third counter-protester to be arrested and charged arising out of the events in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. Corey Long and DeAndre Harris are both also facing criminal charges. All three are Black men and local residents who were attacked that day.

Mr. Blakney was released on personal recognizance Friday. He has an arraignment tomorrow, Monday January 22 at 10AM in Charlottesville General District Court and is requesting that supporters come in solidarity. Mr. Blakney is represented by attorneys Sandra Freeman and David Baugh.

- NLG Central Virginia Chapter

https://www.facebook.com/nlgcentralva/posts/402967166812823
The Heat is On: Update from Blue Ridge ABC on Week 1 of #OperationPUSH!

One week ago prison rebels across Florida launched Operation PUSH. Their demands were simple: end prison slavery and price gouging, restore access to parole, and put an end to the brutal conditions they are subjected to daily.

Information has been slow to trickle out due to intense repression and communication blackouts, but we know there has been strike participation at 15+ prisons, and we know that support on the outside is growing, with 150+ organizations endorsing the action and major solidarity actions in Florida occurring at various locations, including a 5-hour long occupation of the DOC office in Tallahassee on Tuesday.

The repression is already starting to come down: people being thrown into solitary confinement; being threatened with violence; being bribed to end their action and inform on other strike organizers; being transferred to new facilities to disburse strike activity throughout the system and isolate people.

One disturbing feature of this repression is DOC's focus on identifying specific groups coordinating support on the outside such as the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons and IWOC and disrupting prisoners' communication with these groups.

Prison organizers who correspond with these groups are being targeted for having their "security threat level" increased--a practice that translates into greater isolation and harsher conditions of confinement. One prisoner was told point blank, "As long as you communicate with these people you're always going to be labelled a security threat and you're always going to be put under investigation."

Communication has been curtailed so severely that it's hard to know how much of an economic impact the strike has had so far; we do know that in some cases scab labor has been brought in to keep facilities running. This state of uncertainty is a strategy prison administrators use to sap organizing energy. As IWOC recently wrote, "a common theme among report backs is the attempt to sever communication in order to create the perception of inactivity and break the spirits of those participating in the strike."

But strikers won't be fooled so easily, and neither will we. We will keep showing up because those on the inside are putting it all on the line, and we are in absolute solidarity with their courageous acts of resistance.

NOW IS THE TIME TO STEP UP OUR SUPPORT!

- Letter writing to striking prisoners TODAY at Firestorm, 4pm

- Join the "phone zap" (calling campaign" TOMORROW, MONDAY 1/22! Go to incarceratedworkers.org to find the call script and make those calls!

- Tell people about this! #operationpush #endprisonslavery

J20 Statement from TFS
Yesterday marked the year anniversary of January 20th, 2017. The by now all too familiar litany of charges, events, numbers, police tactics, and trials sometimes bears repetition at, but at other times can obscure the human element at play, lives that have been varying degrees of upended or lost in this process.

Three days ago on January 18th 2018, 129 of the original defendants were acquitted of all charges “without prejudice”, a phrase that sounds benign and even somewhat positive. In actuality, it is in place here to protect the plaintiff (in this case, the state) from the defendant (here, the 129) invoking a doctrine called Res Judicata (meaning “a thing decided” in Latin), which essentially states that someone cannot be brought up on charges for the same thing twice.

I think it is important to belabor this point, not in any way to nay-say the relief that anyone may be feeling right now or diminish some very very well deserved congratulations, but to say again and again that the state is not here to give anyone who opposes it relief, or joy, or a sense of justice. The daily realities of so many of us who resist the state by our actions, beliefs, or our very existence is proof enough of the state’s essential nature. This phrase “without prejudice”, when used in the case of a dismissal of charges, means legally that the original charges could be brought again at any time, as though those charges never existed in the first place.

This is a very smart move on the part of the courts. It seems very likely that this was a carefully timed mass acquittal, having little to do with meting out so called guilt or innocence, and everything to do with attempting to fracture support and stymie momentum. They can be seen to be throwing us a bone while actually going ahead with their original intention.

What is unfortunate for the courts is that support for the J20 defendants is not being taken in by this tactic. This is a time for us to focus all our resources on the remaining 59 defendants, keep an eye or two on the shenanigans of the court trying to pull legal fast ones over on our comrades, and take care of ourselves and each other cause this is far from over.

You can see a beautiful statement of solidarity with the remaining defendants at defendj20resistance.org, and as always, keep up with developments in this case by following the hashtags or handles related to "defendj20" on all your fav social media platforms.

To see a list of actions and endeavors in this anniversary week, you can go to itsgoingdown.org.

You can help support the defendants by going to their fundraising support page.

-------------

Show playlist here.

Tags: puerto ricotfsradioweekly podcastla zadZADnotre dame de landescategory: Projects
Categories: News

The Ex-Worker #62: Support, Healing, and Redefining Resistance

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 21:39

From CrimethInc.

2017 in Review, Part II
Anarchists on their roles on the front lines of struggles over the past year.

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As we reconnect to plan a new year of resistance this January 20th, what lessons can we take from the inspiring but traumatic year that was 2017? In Episode 61 of the Ex-Worker, we interview three anarchists who reflect on their role on the front lines of struggles against the state and fascism over the past year. Hex, who survived a shooting attack by a fascist at a Seattle anti-fascist demonstration last January 20th, offers perspective on questions of justice, violence, patriarchy, and compassion, the critical importance of healing, and redefining resistance. An anarchist of color from Charlottesville discusses how the events there have impacted anti-fascist resistance and updates us on court cases, grand jury proceedings, and opportunities to show solidarity. And Miel, who was recently acquitted on all charges in the first trial of J20 defendants from the DC counter-inaugural protests, traces the significance of the J20 case, state strategies of repression, and lessons we can take with us as we move forward into a new year of struggle. The episode wraps up with updates from several other anarchist media projects about their plans for the new year, prisoner birthdays, and more.
{January 18, 2018}

Notes and Links Tags: Crimethinc.the ex-workerreviewsupportpodcastcategory: Essays
Categories: News

The Ex-Worker #61: The Olympia Train Blockade

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 21:38

From CrimethInc.

A look at the Olympia blockade that stopped a train carrying fracking supplies

Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

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In this episode, we take an in-depth look at the blockade in Olympia, WA that stopped a train carrying fracking supplies for twelve days.

Notes and Links Tags: Crimethinc.the ex-workerolympiapodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Anarchists: Government Shutdown Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 20:53

From Crimethinc

Make the Shutdown Comprehensive and Permanent

Once again, the threat of a government shutdown looms over the capital. Politicians exchange barbs, pundits wag their fingers and wring their hands, and the rest of us get up and go to work like we do every day. The news anchors demand to know: whose fault is it? What labyrinthine eleventh-hour compromise will they devise to avoid it? The rest of the nation yawns with indifference.

But we want answers! What if the government does shut down? Who will funnel our taxable income to military contractors? Who will tap our phones and read our email? Who will raid 7-Elevens and deport people? Who will indoctrinate our children? Who will stop people from driving while black? Who will build the wall?

It doesn’t sound all that bad, actually. Unfortunately, the “shutdown” they’re talking about won’t interrupt any of those things. Compared to what this country needs, it’s just a bit of theatrics.

So here’s a different proposal for how to respond to the imminent shutdown of the US government. Let’s make it comprehensive and permanent.

What better way to cut through “partisan gridlock” than by abolishing both parties outright? Seriously, what have they ever done for us? Two gangs of thieves and swindlers competing to boss us around and bleed us dry. It’s hard to imagine a single problem that any of them can resolve better than we could on our own. They themselves are responsible for most of the issues they claim to address.

In recent years, societies around the world have discovered that the absence of a functioning government has produced remarkably little change in their daily lives. Since its prime minister quit a year ago, Northern Ireland has functioned without its elected assembly doing a thing. In Belgium, in 2010 and 2011, 589 days passed without the establishment of a government with no noticeable change in everyday life for most Belgians. Similar interludes went by in Spain and Germany with similarly insignificant consequences.

This goes to show how much of a joke democracy is in postmodern capitalism. Cybernetic bureaucracies keep capital and goods flowing while states do little more than skim off the top and perpetuate violence against us. For the time being, it would be too controversial to entrust all that violence to private security, so they make us pay for it and call it a public service. But hardly anyone is still pretending that governments exist to care for human beings.

In this context, the dazzling and infuriating spectacle of partisan politics is basically a shiny distraction, while the corporations and functionaries who make most of the choices that shape our lives with no oversight from us continue redesigning the world to facilitate their profits. Voting is little more than an anachronistic ritual reinforcing this illusion. It’s not good news that the average citizen of a Western democracy is so alienated from practical self-determination that he barely notices how irrelevant the only avenue for “participation” has become.

Elsewhere across the planet, however, we can find much more inspiring examples of society without government. In the autonomous cantons of Rojava, using a system of popular councils organized from the bottom up in neighborhoods and workplaces, Kurdish and other peoples are taking control of their lives and making decisions collectively on the most local level possible, with federated structures coordinating to address matters of collective concern. In stark contrast to the everyday indifference that is so prevalent in US democracy, these and other scattered instances of life without a centralized state offer far more robust and authentic model for self-determination than anything you can find on an American ballot.

But what about the impact a government shutdown will have on our lives? Won’t we suffer the loss of critical services? Sure, we all gripe about Washington and hate politicians, but when it comes down to it, don’t we need them?


Government shutdown? A good start.


According to most summaries of the shutdown scenario, most of the actually useful services we get from state bureaucracies or federal programs—Social Security, food stamps, the US Postal Service, free school lunches—will still continue. If we look at the history of these programs, this isn’t surprising. Many of them were modeled on autonomous initiatives started by powerful social movements; the government needs these programs to keep us from getting used to relying on ourselves. FBI chief super-villain J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers’ breakfast program “the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for”; the US Department of Agriculture was forced to start the School Breakfast Program in response, which now feeds 13 million students every day. Early anarchist Lysander Spooner created an independent postal system; in response, the government passed a law granting the US Postal System a monopoly, although Spooner forced the USPS to lower its prices to levels that ordinary people could afford. Advocates of “the people’s pension” deserve the credit for social security. If the government weren’t hogging all the resources, we might discover that we could maintain these programs better through grassroots organizing.

Now let’s look at the government functions that will actually be impacted under a shutdown.

We might not be able to get new passports. But believe it or not, for the vast majority of human history, people traveled freely without them. The problem here is simply that the shutdown doesn’t go far enough: if we could shut down government agencies and governments completely, we wouldn’t need passports in the first place. Tens of millions who lack citizenship status or proper visas could visit their families without fear of losing their homes. Dissidents could leave North Korea and Iran. People with arrest records could travel to Canada from the US without some arrogant jerk in a uniform talking down to them. You could go anywhere on earth without having to fill out a form or apply for a visa.

The shutdown could delay tax refunds. But the IRS will still continue collecting taxes—they just won’t give us back the pittance beyond what they claim we “owe.” Here’s a simple solution: they should stop stealing from us in the first place! It would be better if we could devote our resources to addressing problems directly, not sending checks to Washington so that nepotists and their cronies can buy more pork barrels and cruise missiles. Not only will this save us money—once the Pentagon budget runs out, it’ll make nuclear war a lot less likely. If you’ve been paying taxes in hopes of providing support to the retired senior citizen down the street, you could just give her the money directly instead of giving it to a bunch of bureaucrats taking up a collection in her name.


The fancy dining hall at the House of Representatives during the 2013 shutdown. If the shutdown went further, we could open it up to some of the 41 million people who struggle with hunger in the United States while politicians fatten themselves at our expense.


Federal courts might close if the shutdown lasts longer than ten days. That’s a good start, but it would be better if they shut down for good! Two and a half million people are in prison already—as many as were in the gulags under Joseph Stalin. Mass incarceration is one of the most serious problems in the US today and one of the key linchpins of white supremacy and class domination. Judges and prosecutors should stay home for good; they can count themselves lucky no one gave them a taste of their own medicine. With the foot of the criminal legal system off our necks, we could focus on rebuilding our communities and resolving our problems ourselves without police or prisons. For people who grew up with no models for conflict resolution except for running to the biggest gang in town, this is hard to imagine, but there are plenty of alternatives.

National parks might be shut down. Wait a minute—why would we need politicians and bureaucrats to enjoy the wilderness? It would take about an hour to crowdsource the basic maintenance functions of cleaning and upkeep for facilities. Then we could enjoy all of these supposedly public resources, free of charge.

Last time there was a shutdown, in 2013, one enterprising individual took over mowing the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial. This worked out fine—until the US Park Police interceded and forced him to stop. Obviously, the shutdown didn’t go far enough if there were still police on the job to keeping people from learning to take care of problems themselves!


Direct action gets the goods! A volunteer mowing the lawn around the Lincoln Memorial during the last shutdown.


Let’s be clear: the ones who are most worried about a government shutdown are the politicians themselves. Not for the reasons they claim—that one gang will lose votes to the other gang, or that the paychecks of federal workers will be delayed. No, they’re worried because a real shutdown could just show how pointless and parasitic their entire protection racket is. They’re worried that if we get a taste of what it’s like to organize collectively to solve our problems, we’ll never want to stop. Then they would be permanently out of a job.

As anarchists, we’ve got a hunch that people can get along just fine without a government. We’re convinced that everything the government does is either harmful and should be abolished outright (borders, prisons, armies, surveillance) or can be done better by groups of people working together freely (social welfare, preserving wilderness, coordinating production and distribution, collective self-defense).

Don’t confuse us with the so-called libertarians who laud the shutdown because they want the capitalist market to reign supreme over everything else. There’s no way that the prevailing regime of inequality and private property could exist without the coercive force of the state to enforce it. As anarchists, we’re in this for freedom—not the freedom to accumulate profit and property at everyone else’s expense of others, but the freedom to flourish in tandem with everyone, to pursue the concert of our interests without coercion.

Are you with us? Regardless of what the politicians do in the coming days or years, let’s work together to shut down the US government once and for all. Then we can get on with our lives.

Tags: crimethincpartisansocietycategory: Essays
Categories: News

Crossword Puzzle #35: Johann Most

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 19:37

This weeks crossword puzzle is on Johann Most.

Download it here: https://anarchistnews.org/crossword/crossword35.pdf

***

From LBC about the book:

For those anarchistnews fans who miss Worker's acerbic and insightful bon mots on modern-day anarchy and anarchists, here is a fix (however temporary) for you.

Fifty crossword puzzles of occasionally ludicrous difficulty (there are scattered puff questions throughout also, for those of you, like me, who are terrible at these kind of games) are featured for your education and amusement.

Anarchistnews.org is the most popular, utilized, and non-sectarian news source pertaining to anarchists in North America. Its open commenting system continues to be one of the few spaces in which anarchists, nationally and internationally, converse about topics of the day, challenge each other, and critically engage with a wide variety of issues and events.

Worker retired from running the site after eleven years... Since then they have reflected on their time in the daily trenches of running the site, and this book is the result. These crossword puzzles speak to the years of comment threads, the ridiculousness and wonderfulness of the anarchist space in North America, and finally the absurdity of working with cantankerous, stubborn, and self-righteous people by way of essay or manifesto.

These puzzles should probably be done by a reading group or a group of friends. They are supposed to make you think, laugh, and perhaps smack your head. A more perfect metaphor for North American anarchism cannot be found.

https://littleblackcart.com/books/culture/workers-book-of-50-sectarian-c...

***

[ Here are the solutions! Don’t peek!: http://ardentpress.com/crosswords/ ]

Tags: beautiful crossmess parzelthis sitepdfDownloadJohann Mostcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Six Theses on Authority and Socialism: A Refusal to Suffer the Fools Who Think Anarchy is Socialism, or Vice Versa

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 20:39

One.
Authority is the lifeblood of socialism, indeed of all the socialisms. The principle of authority, of command dominates the history of socialism from its first inception by Babeuf during the Directory right down through the various Marxist socialisms. While Marx and his ideas are clearly authoritarian, and hence fall outside the scope of these theses, it is the earlier variants of the socialist ideas that interest us. What of Marx’s forbears? The so-called Utopians and the various intentional communities in the United States? As will see, there has never been nor could there ever be a truly libertarian socialism—as freedom and socialism are derived from different bases and are fundamentally opposed, in theory as in fact.

Two.
With the fall of the Jacobin Republic and it’s replacement in rapid succession by the Thermidorian Reaction and the Directory those militants, primarily associated with the Revolutionary Commune began to rethink and rework the ideas first pushed onto the stage of history by Robespierre, Saint-Just during the earthshaking and terrible experience of The Year II. Among these ideologues was a former procurement officer from the Commune, Gracchus Babeuf. In developing his ideas he would evolve essentially the first group of professional revolutionaries, the Conspiracy of Equals, and simultaneously build the idea of the capture of power and the use of the nation-state to realize a socialist society—The Republic of Equals. Of course all this equality was meant to be created, maintained and enforced by the state. With a guaranteed breakfast and living quarters, however, who has need for freedom? Before he was guillotined, Babeuf had written to a friend,: "I believe that in some future day men will give thought again to the means of procuring for the human race the happiness which we have proposed for it." Unfortunately, this prediction proved to be correct. Bullseye.

Three.
Saint-Simon will appear next on the stage and his ideas stretch authority to new limits. He theorized that society, globally, would be divided into three great classes, the savants, the propertied, and the unpropertied. The savants would form the Council of Newton, which was to be made up of three mathematicians, three physicians, three chemists, three physiologists, three litterateurs, three painters and three musicians; and it was to occupy itself with devising new inventions and works of art for the general improvement of humanity. The actual power in Saint-Simon’s world community was to be yielded by the wealthy who have enough freedom to devote time and service to the state. This, in spite of any evidence to the contrary that the wealthy legislate in their own interests and against everyone else’s—Saint-Simon was certain that his socialism would produce a new human—devoted to service and without a shred of avarice or self-interest. After Saint-Simon’s death his disciples ran riot with a few of his ideas about religion with Prosper Enfantin declaring himself to be the son of the living God and a new Pope to boot. They fade rapidly into socialist history by the 1850s.

Four.
Fourier clearly fits into a lot of our ideas about human communities. As an example his idea that if enough people played, instead of worked, that society would operate in the best interest of all. The Situationists were fascinated by Fourier, and so should we be. Yet lurking on the far side of Fourier’s phalansterie system is a hierarchy even more bizarre and complex than Saint-Simon’s. Based loosely on the individual’s preferences for food, and the types of work they like, the clothes they wear—it must be stated that the phalansterie system is likely one of the most rigid, authoritarian community’s ever devised. In actual practice the various Fourierist experiments collapsed in part due the static and pre-defined work and diet routines—in spite of Horace Greeley’s cheerleading from New York.

Five.
Robert Owens interests only indirectly as his system was so personal that he never was able to find any setting that it could replicated. Yet, he does bring his ideas to the US, and that is critical to our understanding of early socialism—for it is here where we encounter the system that in effect is the exception that proves the rule in Josiah Warren’s Modern Times on Long Island, New York. Warren had been a member of Owen’s community in New Harmony, Indiana and he hated it. The work was routinized, it was hierarchical--nasty, and everyone was in everyone else’s business—good, solid socialism. So to counter this he formed the village of Modern Times. There were to be, as Warren announced, "no organization, no delegated power, no constitutions, no laws or by-laws," no "rules or regulations but such as each individual makes for himself and his own business; no officers, no prophets nor priests." If they had meetings, it was not for the purpose of agreeing on common plans, but merely "for friendly conversation," for music, for dancing or for "some other pleasant pastime." "Not even a single lecture upon the principles upon which we were acting" had ever "been given on the premises. It was not necessary; for, as a lady remarked, 'the subject once stated and understood, there is nothing left to talk about: all is action after that.' " In other words, an anarchy where the individual is sovereign—with nothing in common with socialism.

Six.
So what of the newest craze, so-called libertarian socialism? Given the history outlined above, and mixing in the various hyper-authoritarian Marxist socialisms is a libertarian socialism even possible? Even thinkable? And where are the theorists? Anytime a so-called libertarian socialist is asked to name a thinker that usually say Bakunin, Kropotkin or Goldman—in other words anarchists. It would help if someone, somewhere could name just one libertarian socialist theorist (who was not an anarchist) instead of the constant piggybacking of thinkers who in general loathed socialism. As anarchists we stand on ground that no one else of our tendency has seen for about 100 years. Our ideas are popular, there is praise for fighting fascists, and the growth of large commune-like experiments continues apace. To stop now and let our ideas be co-opted by our traditional enemies, those who have theorized hierarchical, nonsensical societies that strip freedom and refusal from the hands of individuals would do a terrible disservice to what may very well be a bright future—illuminated by individuals dreams and scores of Molotovs.

Tags: libertarian socialismcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Santiago, Chile: Incendiary Attack Against a Transantiago Bus by Weichafe Matías Catrileo Autonomous Group

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 15:11

via insurrection news

Received and translated by Insurrection News on 19.01.18:

It is always time for the attack, but we are not indifferent to the current scenario…while society rejoices seduced by the Papal visit and atones for their sins in the anxiety of waiting, we claim the adventure of direct action.

Arriving on the night of January 10, with autonomous desires in place, we left an incendiary device on a Route 01 Transantiago bus, activating it in the vicinity of Franklin and San Francisco streets. At the moment that the fire began to spread, the sheep driver suffocated it with a fire extinguisher, burning only the rear of this transport symbol of the commercial logic, delegator of times and pulses, adapting the daily to a more narrow social control, providing the comforts that are typical of an alienating culture. However, our actions violate these times, these comforts by choosing with horizontality and without leaders where and when to do and undo the black intentions of permanent conflict against everything that is positioned as authority.

Then, by striking this blow in such a time and place we understand that our decisions and words are linked with what we believe optimal at the moment of attack. For there are rhythms that are developed safely, and even more so, with a will that determines the wound of our enemies as an edge.

The materials, schedules and objectives are set only by us and advance in line with the direction of war…When we pretend that the damage-destruction is different, we will do so and the planning will point in that direction.

Nobody is going to lead us, ever. We are going on the decentralized, autonomous, freely associated, anarchic and violent attack. Greetings to our imprisoned comrades. Juan Flores recently sentenced for an explosive attack under the anti-terrorism law and Tamara Sol with her attempted escape that demonstrates that courage is the best fuel.

With a whole world to destroy, to multiply the autonomous action now! 10 years since he fell in combat…

Weichafe Matías Catrileo Autonomous Group

Tags: Chiledirect actioncategory: Actions
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